Ensworth (Nashville) has only been playing varsity football since 2005, but already has developed a natural rivalry with Montgomery Bell Academy (Nashville).
Friday’s Division II AA quarterfinal at Ensworth (11-0) won’t likely douse the intensity of the matchup. Ensworth is roughly five miles away from Montgomery Bell Academy (9-3). Ensworth’s high school was founded in 2004, thanks in part by a donation by MBA alumnus Tommy Frist, who helped lure away then-MBA coach Ricky Bowers.
“I know a lot of people at Montgomery Bell that I still consider friends,” Bowers said. “I’m not sure if the reverse is true.”
Ensworth defeated the Big Red 35-7 on Oct. 5, but MBA was missing several players. In the four games since, the Big Red has outscored opponents by an average of 35-13.
MORE: Corn-Heads Craze at Ensworth
In the past four years, Ensworth and MBA have met six times, with the Tigers winning four times.
“We’re sort of used to this,” Bowers said. “We have to beat the same team in our division sometimes one or two or three times. We actually enjoy it. I like the fact that this is the team we play. We know they’re going to be ready to play.”
MBA coach Marty Euverard said the team’s goal of a state title is more important than the rivalry.
MORE: Super 25 Rankings
“This has to do with the semifinals and the chance to go to the state championship game,” Euverard said. “You can’t get up in the hype of Ensworth-Montgomery Bell Academy.”
The key for MBA will be stopping Ensworth slippery running back Corn Elder, who has rushed for 2,112 yards and 33 touchdowns.
“Nobody has stopped him all year,” Euverard said. “You just have to get hats to the ball. You can’t give up gap integrity. We have to play great technique and play without fear.”
Ensworth has won 19 games in a row and has only five defeats since 2008, but two were to Montgomery Bell.
Here are four other Super 25 games to watch:
No. 5 Butler (Matthews, N.C.) vs. East Forsyth (Kernersville N.C.), Friday
This state 4AA quarterfinal could be a low-scoring effort with both teams holding opponents to less than 10 points a game. Butler (12-0), which is outscoring opponents 48-7, has gotten a boost from the return last month of quarterback Riley Ferguson, who missed the early part of the season with a broken thumb. East Forsyth (13-0) has outscored opponents 43-9. The Eagles have a punishing ground game, rushing for more than 300 yards in a 42-7 defeat of Providence (Charlotte) last week. LeVaughnte’ Smith is East Forsyth’s top back, rushing for 1,220 yards and 20 touchdowns.
MORE: Five Non-Super 25 Games to Watch
No. 8 Vista Murrieta (Murrieta, Calif.) vs. Norco (Calif.), Friday
The Broncos (11-0) are hoping to have a healthy Su’a Cravens. The Southern California running back/safety recruit missed most of last week’s game with a sore shoulder. But Vista Murrieta also has quarterback Nick Stevens, a Colorado recruit who has passed for 21 touchdowns and run for 10. Norco (7-4) has outscored its past four opponents 138-26. Cougars quarterback Coltin Gerhart, son of coach Todd Gerhart, has thrown for 1,194 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for 1,091 yards and 18 touchdowns.
No. 9 Colerain (Cincinnati) vs. Moeller (Cincinnati), Saturday
Though these schools are less than 16 miles apart, they haven’t played in five years, a 17-10 region quarterfinal victory by Colerain in 2008. This time, the game is a region semifinal at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium, with the winner advancing to the state Division I semfinals. Colerain (12-0) is led by quarterback Alfred Ramsby (1,535 yards passing with 15 touchdowns and 1,432 yards and 18 touchdowns rushing) while Moeller (9-3) is the only team to beat Trinity (Louisville, Ky.) since 2009. Moeller’s Crusaders (9-3) have a high-powered offense, led by running back Keith Watkins (1,760 yards and 23 touchdowns), but also allow 28.4 points a game.
No. 15 Coppell, Texas vs. McArthur (Irving, Texas), Saturday
This 5A Division I Region I playoff is a big enough deal to be played at Cowboys Stadium. Running back Jourdan McNeill has rushed for 1,360 yards and 21 touchdowns for McArthur (7-3). Colby Mahon, the quarterback for Coppell (10-0), has thrown for 1,569 yards and 22 touchdowns with only one interception. Coppell’s defense has only allowed six points in its past three games.