Kickoff for Saturdays Class 2A BlueCross Bowl is set for 11 a.m. at Tucker Stadium on the campus of Tennessee Tech.
Back in Cookeville just 12 months after defeating Dresden in the 2011 title game, the Commanders have reeled off 10 consecutive wins since a late August loss at Class 1A power Gordonsville.
Friendships opponent Adamsville hails from McNairy County in rural West Tennessee. The Cardinals ost the 2012 season opener to Chester County, then rolled to 12 straight wins.
Having played four 4A schools and a 5A school during the course of the season, the Cardinals come in battle-tested.
Were a lunch bucket kind of team, coach Brandon Gray said, they put in the time and effort every single day in practice. Weve got 22 seniors, a group that has won 39 games for us in their career.
Over seven years as the head coach at Adamsville, the former Cardinal ballboy and athlete has compiled a record of 53-28.
Adamsvilles defense has been spectacular this season, intercepting 27 passes and holing their opposition to less than 10 points per contest. Former Trousdale County High standout Rennard Woodmore coaches the defense for the Cardinals.
Coach Woodmore won two state championships at Trousdale County. He knows what you have to do on the defensive side of the football, coach Gray said.
Taking advantage of open zoning in McNairy County, the Adamsville roster stands at over 80 with most athletes only playing on one side of the ball.
They certainly have real depth and plenty of size to go with it, FCS coach John McNeal said.
Friendship looks to counter Adamsvilles size and depth with a multitude of offensive and defensive sets -- alignments that should put speedy Commander playmakers in position to impact the contest.
Steven Hollis has rushed for 1,049 yards on 119 tries -- 8.8 yards per carry -- and has scored 13 touchdowns. He's coming off nearly 200-yards rushing in last week's semifinal win over Boyd Buchanan.
Junior quarterback A.J. Long has certainly lived up to expectations after moving in from Pennsylvania last spring. Long has thrown for 2,388 yards through 13 games, completed 106-of-170 attempts ( 62 percent) with 35 touchdowns and just one interception. Long has also run for 640 yards on 119 attempts (5.3 yards per rush) and has scored 12 touchdowns.
His top receivers include: Hunter Watts (32 catches for 716 yards and 11 scores) and Stefan Remus (25 receptions for 697 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Linebacker Austin Taylor and safety Cale Mitchell anchor the FCS defense with 69 tackles apiece. Defensive lineman Ian Isbell pounds away in the trenches while linebacker Tanner Martin was a Mr. Football finalist.
Saturdays BlueCross Bowl Championship games will be broadcast live on Nashville's WNPT-TV, Channel 8 and streamed live on ESPN3.com.
Broadcast times for the 2012 BlueCross Bowl are:SATURDAY, DEC. 1:Class 2A - 11 a.m. Class 4A - 3 p.m. Class 6A - 7 p.m.
TOMMY BRYAN / firstname.lastname@example.org