By Maurice Patton
For different reasons, it’s a bit debatable who’ll be on either sideline when Columbia Central travels Friday night to Shelbyville for a Region 5-5A game that carries postseason implications for the visiting Lions.
Central’s roster was somewhat depleted for its 20-0 win Thursday over visiting Stratford, with some of those players expected to miss the regular-season finale as well.
“We don’t know for sure,” Lions coach Jason Hoath said earlier this week. “We’re definitely not at full strength, but we’ll go to war with what we’ve got.”
Linemen Deandre Mathers and Eli Hight are both expected back in time for Friday’s contest after missing Stratford for pandemic-related reasons, while quarterback Brady McCanless is likely to complete post-concussion protocols in time to return.
“He felt fine midway through last week; he got cleared,” Hoath said of McCanless, who left the Week 9 loss at Page and did not play against Stratford. “He’s just got to do so many days (without symptoms) before he can come back.”
Senior lineman Carter Sydlowski and linebacker Demetrius McCoy are expected to miss Friday’s game as they continue to be held out under pandemic guidelines, as do safety Isaiah Cordle, defensive back/receiver Caden Czjaka and special teamer Kayden McCoy.
Junior running back Christian Biggers, who was suspended for the opening half of the Stratford game for disciplinary reasons and elected not to dress for the contest, practiced earlier this week.
“We’ll see how that goes,” Hoath said.
As the Lions (5-4, 1-3) head into Friday with playoff prospects – regardless of the outcome – Shelbyville (6-2, 3-0) has locked up the No. 2 seed out of Region 5-5A. However, the Golden Eagles still await a decision for their role in a brawl last week against Franklin County, with suspensions expected to be mandated by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association.
Hoath expects a challenge from Shelbyville, whoever does suit up.
“They’ve got a lot of talent. They’re big up front, they’ve got some guys that are explosive with the football,” he said. “We’re going to have our hands full. We have to play better than we have all year. The penalties we’ve had, we’ve got to get rid of. We’ve got to win on first and second down, on both sides of the ball.
“What (winning) does for postseason, I couldn’t tell you. There’s situations where, win or lose, we could be in or out. I’ve told our coaches, we can’t be worried about it. Let’s just go play Friday night. If we’re in, great. If we’re not, we can say we played 10 games this year. Not a lot of teams can say that.”