Toppers in a Do-Or-Die Playoff Mode
By Craig Ladd
Special to BSW
For the second year in a row, Montgomery Central stands in the way of Hillwood reaching the 4A playoffs.
Last year the Hilltoppers knocked off the Indians, 14-9, to secure a postseason berth for the first time since 2004.
Fast-forward to 2016 and Hillwood must once again defeat Montgomery Central to continue playing this season.
“It’s our last regular season home game and I would love nothing more than to clinch the playoffs on our home turf,” said Hillwood coach Kurt Page.
“We ended a 10-year playoff drought last year and we want to have back-to-back playoff trips for the first time since the 2003-2004 seasons,” Page said.A Hillwood victory secures a playoff invitation in three out of four scenarios.
The only occurrences that would keep the Hilltoppers out of the playoffs are if Kenwood beats Lipscomb Academy and Creek Wood knocks off Clarksville Northwest. Hillwood will be the No. 3 seed if Lipscomb Academy and Clarksville Northwest win.
The remaining two playoffs scenarios have the Toppers as the No. 4 seed if Lipscomb Academy loses and Clarksville Northwest wins and if Lipscomb Academy wins and Clarksville Northwest loses.
Hillwood hosted its first game in six weeks but fell to Hickman County, 27-14 last Friday night. The Hilltoppers had four turnovers and 13 penalties for 121 yards, which proved too much to overcome.
Quarterback Hale Page returned to the lineup, but team’s most explosive player Monterrion McKissack and best lineman Chris Clark were absent due to injuries. Both players have missed multiple games during the Toppers five-game losing streak.
Page finished with 235 yards passing and a touchdown pass but his lack of practice and game action the last two weeks showed as he threw three interceptions.
Wideout Kenneth Redd finished with four catches for 100 yards and fellow receiver Kendrick Gordon had six receptions for 114 yards, including a 69-yard TD reception. Running back Antonio
Walton was the team leader in rushing with 60 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
Defensively, Gordon had a pair of interceptions and seven tackles and defensive back Thaddeus Clay also had an interception.
Linebacker Brandon Lyles had his second straight game of double-digit tackles with 12, including two tackles for loss and a half-sack.
“You are not going to win a game with four turnovers and 13 penalties,” said the second-year coach. “We will work on cleaning up the penalties in practice and valuing possession of the football.”
The task at hand for Hillwood on Friday night is to win. If the Hilltoppers lose, they will be eliminated from the playoffs.
“It’s a WE or ME game. We are going to have to play more as a WE team instead of a ME team in order to accomplish our goal of reaching the playoffs,” said Page.
Kickoff for the last regular season game is at 7 p.m.