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Post 19 sets sights on region tourney title

By Maurice Patton

Scott Beasley considers his team “battle-tested”, but the troops are a bit thin as the Post 19 Seniors head into the American Legion Southeast Regional Tournament that starts Wednesday at Bobby Hayes Stadium in Pelham, Ala.

When the Columbia squad takes the field for the 10 a.m. opener – “Somehow we’ve had the opener the last four years; but it’s a blind draw, supposedly,” Beasley observed – of the eight-team double-elimination tourney against Tallahassee (Fla.) Post 13, they’ll be short three players that were in uniform for the three-game sweep of Pulaski Post 60 in last month’s best-of-5 state tournament series.

Spring Hill graduates Dawson Hargrove and Brandon O’Brien, incoming freshmen at Southwest Tennessee Community College and UT-Southern, respectively, opted out of the trip along with late roster addition Jacob Culberson.

“Obviously the first name hurts a little,” Beasley said regarding Hargrove, a two-way player who emerged as the leading hitter for Post 19 (.403) and tied for the team lead with four home runs while going 3-1 with a 3.36 earned run average this summer. “But at this point, it is what it is. We’ve got 13 that really want to be there.

“At the end of the day, you want guys that want to be there and you go from there.”

The Columbians head into regional tourney play with an 18-7 record, riding a six-game winning streak and having won eight of their last nine contests – a performance that encourages Beasley as the team heads south.

“From what I can find, (Tallahassee) is a team similar to ours,” he said. “From what I can tell, it looks like they’ve got a couple of college arms, ‘gonna-be’ college arms, and a pretty solid lineup.

“Obviously Tupelo (Miss., Post 49) has had a great year. They’re sitting on two losses and we beat them twice. We’re the only team that’s beaten them all season. Florence (S.C., Post 1) I believe is 31-3. Retif Oil (Post 285) out of New Orleans is a really solid program; they’ve already got two or three big-time Division I commits. They’re going to be a tough out as well.”

Rounding out the eight-team field – which includes seven state champions — is Troy (Ala.) Post 70, Covington (Ga.) Post 32 and the host Shelby County Post 555.

“That’s why we travel where we do throughout the summer: You’ve seen some of these teams,” Beasley said. “When you see them in the regional, you’re not scared by them. You’ve seen them before, you kinda know what to expect.

“I guess you could say we’re battle-tested. Does that translate into wins at the end of the season? We’ll see.”

After previously playing in the Mid-South Regional, this is Post 19’s second appearance at the Southeast Regional since returning to that region in 2019; last year’s tournament was not played as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We kinda get put wherever they throw us,” Beasley said. “Right now, our regional, the way it’s currently set up is brutal. You’ve probably got six of the top 10 states as far as teams coming out (to the American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C.). I’m not saying there’s not some good teams in other places, but the fourth- or fifth-place team in our regional honestly could go win some other regionals.

“At the same time, it’s where you are, so you’ve got to go out and win it.”

Hickman County graduate and Freed-Hardeman left-hander Shelton Blackwell, who led Post 19 in wins (four), innings pitched (31.1) and ERA (2.23) will get the ball in Wednesday’s opener. He’ll be followed Thursday by Summertown grad Cory Francis, with Columbia Central rising senior Hudson Adams slated to start Friday.

“That’s the plan – but you get into tournament play and who knows who you’ve got to use in relief,” Beasley said.

Grant Burleson, the 2021 Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association’s selection as Class A Mr. Baseball out of Summertown, has not thrown since July 3 because of concerns over some arm soreness. Beasley anticipates the Columbia State signee being available out of the bullpen this week.

“He’s fine. For now, he’s fine,” the coach said. “He was about to come in at the end of the second game at the state tournament. We think he’s healthy to where we could use him as a closer. You’re not going to get ‘starter’ innings out of him, but if it’s one, maybe two innings, you’ve got him in your back pocket to try to close a game.”

Offensively – where Hargrove’s absence may show up more – state tourney most valuable player Brantly Whitwell (.352, 10 extra-base hits, 32 runs) and Brett Bell (.369, 25 runs, eight steals), both Spring Hill products, will look to solidify the batting order along with Burleson (.344, four homers, 26 RBI).

“I do think hitting depth has been our strength all year,” Beasley said, as the starting lineup stands to have five .300 hitters.

Post 19 will match up Thursday against either Retif Oil or Troy Post 70 – either in a winners bracket contest at 4 p.m. or in an elimination game at 10 a.m. Double-elimination play continues Friday and Saturday, with the tournament championship game set for 2 p.m. Sunday.

Games will be available via webstreaming.

“Small but mighty” may turn out to be the team’s battle cry for the week.

“When you’re taking 13 with three ‘POs’ (pitchers-only), it makes making the lineup really easy,” Beasley said. “But, get an injury and you’re up against the wall.

“Sometimes, everybody getting to play their part kinda energizes the team.”


10 a.m. – Tallahassee (Fla.) Post 13 vs. Columbia Post 19
1 p.m. – Florence (S.C.) Post 1 vs. Tupelo (Miss.) Post 49
4 p.m. – Retif Oil (New Orleans Post 285) vs. Troy (Ala.) Post 70
7:30 p.m. – Covington (Ga.) Post 32 vs. Shelby Co. (Ala.) Post 555


10 a.m. – Game 1 loser vs. Game 3 loser, elimination game
1 p.m. – Game 2 loser vs. Game 4 loser, elimination game
4 p.m. – Game 1 winner vs. Game 3 winner
7 p.m. – Game 2 winner vs. Game 4 winner

Coaches happy with scrimmage results from Friday

By Chris Yow

Spring Hill football coach Ben Martin won’t take this for granted anymore.

After his team’s Friday night scrimmage at Lebanon, Martin said it was a blessing to be back on the field and getting work in without the team’s win-loss record on the line.

That was a popular sentiment around the area over the weekend, as high school teams got a chance to hit somebody new and in a different colored jersey.

Last season, scrimmages were not allowed due to the threat of COVID-19, but with the latest guidelines from health officials and the TSSAA, local teams took full advantage of the opportunity.

Columbia Central, with John Moore still getting his feet under him, traveled to Lawrence County. The interim coach said he was pleased with what he saw.

“We got off to a slow start, but Q Martin picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown, and that really revved us up,” he said. “We started executing a little better on offense after that, and I thought we did OK.”

“Our pad level is way too high, but that’s normal for this time of the year and our timing is off, so we have to work on that.”

Pad levels and techniques are part of the biggest corrections needed after these early scrimmages, according to coaches.

“We were terrible on technique and still managed to stay in the scrimmage. It’s the little things we harp on all the time,” Martin said. “We got some good work in, but I’m not sure how many questions got answered.”

Martin said getting a chance to control the scrimmage and correct mistakes as they happen during the scrimmage may not be ideal for fans who are clamoring for game action, but it’s vital to getting ready for Aug. 20.

“We were able to get out and correct things, and we got to see some stuff we wanted to see and look at,” he said. “It’s maybe not as exciting for fans with controlled scrimmages, but we get really good work being able to do it this way.

“We made mistakes, but nothing I wouldn’t expect to happen in the first scrimmage of the year.”

Mt. Pleasant coach Kit Hartsfield said his team bogged down in the red zone during their scrimmage at Cornersville and his team failed to score in the game. That, however, didn’t stall his optimism.

“It went OK,” he said. “I’m certainly not worried. We went up against good competition in Cornersville. It shows you where you’re at and where you need to be.”

Like Martin and Spring Hill, Hartsfield said his team didn’t play well, but still remained competitive.

“That’s what we are preaching to the kids is our ceiling is really high,” he said. “We looked fast on defense — had a lot of guys flying around making some big hits.”

Richland coach Nick Patterson was pleased, and for good reason. His team scored five touchdowns and held visiting Huntland to just two. The offensive production, considering the shake-up in the backfield this offseason, was a point of excitement.

“Overall, it was one of our better outings in my tenure here in execution and performance,” he said. “It was a good scrimmage for us, but there is obviously plenty to work on.”

The quarterback for the last two seasons, Sam Edwards has moved to running back in favor of Bryce Miller. That move has allowed Patterson to be more flexible with his senior athlete.

“Sam moved to running back and he’s thriving. It also allows us to use him more on defense, and he’s doing a great job for us there,” Patterson said. “I thought Bryce did a great job at quarterback. He handled himself really well.”

Patterson was also impressed with his team’s depth at this point of the season. A large freshman class has helped to bolster some key positions.

“Overall, I think we have more depth than we’ve ever had. There are a few places I’d like to have more, but team-wide our numbers are good,” he said. “I feel like we are building much-needed depth in a lot of spots.

“It’s good to be back.”

This week’s scrimmage schedule:


Collinwood at Mt. Pleasant
Summertown at Perry Co.
Columbia Acad. at Spring Hill
Richland at Giles Co.


Hardin Co. at Lawrence Co.


South Gibson at Columbia Acad.
Loretto at Scotts Hill
Stewarts Creek at Summit
Hillsboro at Independence
Richland at Moore Co.
Spring Hill, Summertown at East Hickman

Culleoka lands local product to lead girls

By Maurice Patton

Catherine Upshaw is going home to begin her coaching career.

The Zion Christian and Maryville College graduate, who attended Culleoka Unit School through her eighth-grade year, is set to succeed Derrick Adkison at the top of the Lady Warriors’ varsity basketball program.

“I’m very excited about it,” said the 24-year-old said this weekend, who joined the faculty at Riverside Elementary following the Christmas break. “I just started my teaching career, and I had been looking for a coaching job in general. It didn’t matter if it was elementary, middle or high school. When the Culleoka position came around, I was like, I think I’d really enjoy that.

“Now that I have the position, I’m thrilled and I cannot wait to start.”

Catherine Upshaw, pictured during her Maryville College playing career, was announced this weekend as the successor to Culleoka girls basketball coach Derrick Adkison. (Courtesy photo)

Adkison stepped down in March after his ninth season with Culleoka, leading the team to its fourth straight Region 5-A tournament berth and its sixth appearance during his tenure. His son, Macon, will be a freshman at Santa Fe this year, where he plays basketball and baseball.

Culleoka athletics director Doug Sharp – who coached Upshaw in middle school – recently contacted his former student after a previous prospect to replace Adkison removed his name from consideration.

“She’s always expressed an interest in wanting to coach,” he said. “I saw her last week after she’d been working at Riverside all summer and asked her if she was still interested. Her already being in the (Maury County Public Schools) system as a teacher made the situation work a little faster.

“We needed to get something done.”

Following her 2019 graduation at Maryville College, Upshaw completed her masters degree requirements at Tusculum College in December. After teaching fourth grade at Riverside for the second half of the school year, she will teach kindergarten this year.

Tricia Reischman, who served as an assistant under Adkison, will continue in that role with Upshaw while coaching the middle school team.

“(Reischman) wasn’t interested in moving up, but she does have a couple of girls on this year’s team and agreed to mentor Catherine, sort of like I’ve been doing with (boys basketball coach) Mike Lovett,” Sharp said.

“What I really like about Catherine is her demeanor. I think she’ll be a good coach in the future because she doesn’t get too high, she doesn’t get too low. She just keeps that happy medium.”

With her playing career still fresh, Upshaw expects that to be in her favor as she embarks on her coaching career.

“I’ve been playing all my life. I know that aspect of the game,” she said. “Being 24 years old, I can get out there and show them what I want, not just by verbally saying it. I can coach them, I can play with them. I think that’s pretty important.”

Maryville, an NCAA Division III program, posted winning seasons in three of Upshaw’s four years – including a 26-4 campaign her freshman year and a berth in the national tournament.

“We were very successful, and the coaching there was phenomenal,” she said. “We had great coaches that knew how to talk to players, how to communicate.

“Playing with people you love and care for is pretty important. That’s a huge factor I will help these girls develop with one another.”

Upcoming local prep scrimmages, jamborees


Collinwood at Mt. Pleasant
Summertown at Perry Co.
Columbia Acad. at Spring Hill
Richland at Giles Co.


Hardin Co. at Lawrence Co.


South Gibson at Columbia Acad.
Loretto at Scotts Hill
Stewarts Creek at Summit
Hillsboro at Independence
Richland at Moore Co.
Spring Hill, Summertown at East Hickman

Tuesday, Aug. 10

Mt. Pleasant at Waverly
Tullahoma at Columbia Central

Friday, Aug. 13
Maury County Jamboree
at Lindsey Nelson Stadium

Goodpasture vs. Columbia Acad., 6 p.m.
Dickson Co. vs. Spring Hill, 7 p.m.
Creek Wood vs. Columbia Central, 8 p.m.

Giles County Jamboree
at Sam Davis Park

Fayetteville vs. Richland, 7 p.m.
Lawrence Co. vs. Giles Co., 8 p.m.

Summertown at Rogers (Ala.)
Zion Chr. at Loretto

Coaches whose programs’ scrimmages or jamboree appearances are not listed are encouraged to e-mail with that information.

Fortenberry to fortify Spring Hill girls hoops

By Maurice Patton

Hurricane Katrina took place nearly 16 years ago, but the catastrophic event that wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast in August 2005 has recently helped settle the Spring Hill coaching staff.

Wayne Fortenberry, who won three Mississippi high school basketball state championships over a career that spanned more than 30 years, has been named to replace Matt Horton atop the Lady Raider program.

“He’s got quite a pedigree,” Spring Hill athletics director John Farmer said. “His résumé is really impressive when you look at it. He taught and coached, but he was also a school administrator down in Mississippi for many, many years. He coached both boys and girls, but the majority of his career has been coaching girls.”

Fortenberry’s daughter and son-in-law – Dee Dee and Mark Montgomery – lost their Gulfport home as a result of Katrina, prompting them to move their family to Middle Tennessee.

“My daughter’s an only child, so when they moved up, we began to plan to, as soon as we retired, move up,” said Fortenberry, who officially retired as an administrator in the Biloxi, Miss., school system in 2014 after stepping away from coaching four years previously.

It was after he and his wife, Karen, arrived in south Williamson County, however, that Fortenberry picked up his third Mississippi title. With Pearl High School girls basketball coach Lacey Kennedy, a member of the United States Army Reserve, deployed to Qatar in November 2018 for 10 months, he helped Jason Kennedy lead the Jackson-area program to the 2019 Class 6A championship.

“Lacey, I’ve known from when she was playing high school and college basketball. Her husband and I are real good friends,” Fortenberry said. “She called me and said ‘the season’s getting ready to start in a few days and I’m being deployed for 10 months, can you come help me out?’ I told her, anything I can do, I’ll do.”

For the length of the season, Fortenberry commuted – staying during the week, returning home after Friday night games – helped with the Kennedys two sons and provided support on the bench as the Lady Pirates went 31-1.

“It was a great experience, but it was rough,” he said. “They asked me to stay (the following year), but I had to get back and see my grandkids play.”

The episode was emblematic of a career that also includes 1984 boys and girls state crowns at Hattiesburg Prep, in addition to stops at West Lauderdale near Meridian, Purvis and St. Martin in Ocean Springs.

“Like my wife said, I’m going to die somewhere in a gymnasium,” the 66-year-old said. “I don’t care who’s playing, I’m there watching.”

Among the teams he’s watched over the past few years were the Lady Raiders, who went 17-11 and clinched a Region 6-AAA tournament berth in Horton’s fourth and final season. Under Horton, who resigned in late June to take the boys basketball coaching position at Mt. Pleasant, Spring Hill posted its first winning finish in 18 years.

“I’d gotten to following Spring Hill and several other teams in the area,” Fortenberry said. “I met some of the kids. … I enjoyed watching Spring Hill play. When it opened up, I said, let’s give it a shot and see what happens.”

Fortenberry, whose grandson is Independence sophomore guard Jett Montgomery, will serve on a non-faculty basis at Spring Hill.

“It’s not ideal,” Farmer said. “Ideally, you’d like to have a coach in the building. It’s difficult sometimes to find the (teaching) certifications you need for the positions you need to fill, that can also coach. Sometimes you have to go the non-faculty coach route.”

Next in line: Cummings assumes Eagles’ starting quarterback position

By Maurice Patton

THOMPSONS STATION — It would seem that, over nearly a decade, there would come a time that Scott Blade would be without a quarterback capable of performing at the level necessary to engineer the high-powered offense that Independence has relied upon throughout his tenure.

It doesn’t seem that this is that time.

Joe Cummings, a senior who sat out last season after transferring from Battle Ground Academy, appears set to continue the Eagles’ signal-calling lineage that began with Blade’s 2013 arrival after four seasons at Oak Ridge.

“Everything goes through the quarterback,” Blade said following Friday’s scrimmage against visiting Overton. “He takes care of the ball. There’s a read progression on every play. If he’s smart and disciplined and keeps his eyes down field, there’s typically a receiver that’s going to be open. It’s discipline and keeping your eyes down field, having the God-given strength and ability to do that and make the throws – they’re all over the field.

“We have been blessed that we’ve had guys that were able to do that.”

Starting with Andrew Bunch, a sophomore when Blade showed up at Independence who led the Eagles to the 2015 Class 5A state title, the parade at the position continued with Brandon Hines, Nathan Cisco, Ethan Cash and Jaxson Campbell – a quintet that helped Independence to a .700 winning percentage.

Cummings took note.

“It’s a big deal, for sure,” he said of playing that position for that program. “I think it’s the way Coach (Blade) operates around the guys he has – Ethan Cash, Jaxson, even Andrew when they won state. They find the right pieces with what they have. I think that’s what makes it so special here at Independence.”

Though Cummings spent the first portion of his high school career at BGA – reversing the path that Williamson County product C.J. Beathard took, from Indy to BGA to Iowa to the NFL – he previously played at Heritage Middle School in Spring Hill.

“I played with these guys in middle school,” he said. “I figured I’d come back and hopefully help this team win some games this year.”

Early indications point to that being the case. In limited action Friday, Cummings completed five of eight passes for 112 yards and three touchdowns.

“He was on point, and just about every ball was catchable,” Blade said. “The good thing is, he’s had a year to kind of absorb the offense and learn enough in a (junior varsity) role so that this year makes sense and there’s preparation time and the game slows down like it should for a senior.

“He’s got all the physical tools. Mentally now it’s about getting him enough reps. We got some 7-on-7 time. It’s a work in progress. We haven’t been tested, like (Christ Presbyterian Academy) and Lipscomb and Ravenwood and all the teams we’re going to play, but in 7-on-7 he was super accurate, he’s been super accurate in practice and he was super accurate (Friday).”

First-year Overton coach Arcentae Broome, who’s seen Blade’s Independence and Hillsboro squads from the opposite sidelines during previous stops at Maplewood and McGavock, sees why his teams have been able to build on their success behind center.

“Sometimes, what you display, people want to be a part of it,” Broome said. “We weren’t on that level, but at Maplewood, we were manufacturing quarterbacks. We were never in a situation where we didn’t have that good of a quarterback. Blade’s the same way, just on a better level.

“It feeds off itself, it breeds a sense of consistency and it brings people along.”

Cummings follows Campbell, who accounted for 2,697 offensive yards and 34 total touchdowns last fall.

“It’s a fun offense to play in when there’s protection and (the quarterbacks are) on point,” Blade said. “They know we’re going to throw. Even last year, with shortened preparation time and a different offense – our first time to use a tight end-type, a running-first quarterback – it’s still an offense that’s receiver friendly, and quarterback friendly as well.”

Photos by Ric Beu / SM-Tn Sports