Oak Ridge on the road in Athens Friday night for second-round showdown

Oak Ridge advanced to the second round of the TSSAA Class 5A playoffs with a 36-17 victory over Rhea County Friday night at Blankenship Field,

The Wildcats (6-5) will now turn their attention toward McMinn County (9-2) and a second-round matchup in Athens this week.

The Cherokees won Region 4-5A in 2022 and eliminated Oak Ridge in the opening round of the 2021 playoffs with a 24-17 victory.

Friday’s meeting will mark the fifth postseason game between the Cherokees, coached by Bo Cagle, and the Wildcats.

Oak Ridge defeated McMinn County 28-14, in 1975. The Wildcats prevailed, 12-7, in 2009. They also won in 2011, claiming a 35-6 victory.

The Cherokees and Oak Ridge collided on the gridiron in a regular-season contest on Oct. 7, 2016, with McMinn County posting a 28-24 win.

The Wildcats head to Athens this week looking for a bit of revenge after having their season end at McMinn County in 2021.

“We definitely have the motivation this year,” said Oak Ridge running back Jai Hundley, who rushed for 149 yards and three touchdowns on just nine carries against the Golden Eagles in last week’s first-round playoff game. “This time, it’s personal.”

The Cherokees advanced to the second round with a 39-7 win over Campbell County, Oak Ridge’s Region 3-5A rival.