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Rebels’ mid-state road trip dress rehearsal for playoffs

Rebels’ mid-state road trip dress rehearsal for playoffs
In preparation for what he hopes is a repeated practice down the road, Shawn Jackson is treating this week’s road trip to Cunningham like a playoff game.
The Obion Central head coach says everything from the team’s travel itinerary to the way the fifth-ranked Rebels will approach their matchup with Montgomery Central (3-2) will mirror what the Rebels will do if/when they make their third straight postseason trip in November.
“When we were putting together the schedule last winter, this was something I wanted to do because I think it will simulate a playoff week and trip for us,” Jackson said. “You have to be able to go on the road and win come playoff time, and that’s something we obviously haven’t done a very good job of the last couple of years.
“I want to get our players comfortable with the routine of playing on the road, where you have to alter your regular schedule some. I’m hopeful it will benefit us down the road if we’re fortunate enough to make the playoffs and advance.”
The two-game contract between OC and MC was born from a relationship formed last fall when there was speculation the two could meet in the playoffs. While that did not happen, Jackson and Indian head coach Marcus Bragg did get together when both programs were looking for non-district games during the scheduling period.
Central plans to leave for Friday’s 7 p.m. kickoff at 2:30, according to its head coach. The Rebels will stop in Paris for a light snack, with plans to arrive in Cunningham at 5:50. They’ll take the field for warm-ups shortly after  6 o’clock.
The contest will be OC’s last non-13AA game of the season.
“It’s always fun and obviously a little more challenging when you’re preparing for someone that you’ve not played before,” Jackson said. “They look good on tape, and when you figure we’ll be at an automatic disadvantage in that we’ll be playing on the road and with that area’s officials, I’ll say we better bring our A-game.”
The game has been designated as Cancer Awareness Night by MCHS officials.
UC HURTS HEALING — Union City welcomed the return of starting center Brett Gore last week.
They’ll get some news this week — good or bad — on quarterback Travis Rutland.
Gore suffered a torn MCL in Week 0 vs. Obion Central and was sorely missed on the offensive side of the ball as the Tornadoes suffered through center-quarterback exchanges with three different players in his absence. There were no such issues Friday in UC’s 42-13 victory over Greenfield.
Gore, the team’s leading tackler last year at middle linebacker, did not play on defense vs. the Yellowjackets. Plans are for him to be worked in gradually at LB, with possibly some time on the defensive line.
Rutland, who had finger surgery in the preseason and was believed to be out for the year, was to visit the doctor this week. There is a possibility he could return to action in the latter part of the season if he is cleared, according to head coach Darren Bowling.
That development would not only strengthen the QB position, but also the offensive line with current signal-caller Joseph Shanks moving back to his original guard position.
DEVILS MUST-WIN — It’s not a district game, but South Fulton’s trip to play Gleason Friday night could have some ultimate playoff implications.
SF is now 2-3 after posting back-to-back wins following an 0-3 start. Gleason is 2-2, alternating wins and losses in each of its first four games.
With District 13A — at least on paper — apparently the stronger of the two rural West Tennessee Class 1A leagues, 14A may not get more than one team into the postseason with the TSSAA’s quirky system.
Though head-to-head meetings mean nothing as evidenced by last year’s bracket, the Red Devils must take advantage of every opportunity they have at getting wins. Same, too, with Gleason, which could be in a tough fight for a bid in 13A with West Carroll, Bruceton and league frontrunner Hunt-ingdon.
The Redmen have Green-field next week, and, with a victory vs. Gleason on Friday, could enter the stretch run of Trenton, Lake County and Union City with a four-game winning streak and in good shape as far as qualifying for the playoffs. Published in The Messenger 9.21.11

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