Tag Archives: Columbia Central

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.”

Wednesday

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

Thursday

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:

Tuesday

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

Thursday

Hardin Co. at Lawrence Co.

Friday

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

Upcoming local prep scrimmages, jamborees

Tuesday

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

Thursday

Hardin Co. at Lawrence Co.

Friday

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 sports@sm-tnsports.com with that information.

Area high school grid preseason schedule

Friday

Summit at Riverdale
Overton at Independence
Columbia Central at Lawrence Co.
Hickman Co. at Columbia Acad.
Spring Hill at Lebanon
Huntland at Richland
Mt. Pleasant at Cornersville

Tuesday (Aug. 3)

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

Thursday, Aug. 5

Hardin Co. at Lawrence Co.

Friday, Aug. 6

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 program’s scrimmages or jamboree appearances are not listed are encouraged to e-mail sports@sm-tnsports.com with that information.

Former players rally behind interim Columbia Central football coach

By Chris Yow

Players from Columbia Central football’s past are looking to the future, and are rallying behind their former offensive coordinator John Moore. He assumed the role of interim head coach of the program on July 12, following the dismissal of Jason Hoath by new principal Kevin Eady.

Eady said he did not consult with any former players of Moore’s before making the decision to offer him the position. Had he done so, the recommendations from some of the program’s biggest names in recent memory would have been positive.

Former players have called Moore a ‘tough, but fair’ coach, including the 2010 Class 5A state championship game’s offensive and defensive most valuable player Tra’Darius Goff.

“He’s the type of guy that when it’s business time, it’s business time. He’s going to have fun and create memories,” he said. “When you went into a game with him on your side, you felt like you had an advantage because he was going to find the weakness and exploit it. He put us in the position to succeed.”

Goff, who joined the Mt. Pleasant coaching staff this season under Kit Hartsfield, said Moore is a coach he would love to work with.

“Coach Moore is a guy anyone would want to coach under; he knows what he’s doing. He has a long pedigree,” Goff said. “It’s not like he’s some guy off the street.”

Moore’s pedigree is quite impressive. His father and hall-of-famer, the late Herschel Moore, is credited with naming the “jet sweep” play and is best known for his work in the Wing-T offense. Moore’s brother, Tom, is the head coach at Hillwood.

That pedigree has given Moore an extensive knowledge of the game, according to current New England Patriots offensive guard Shaq Mason.

“No matter who you line him up against, his football knowledge is right there at the top,” Mason said. “He says some of the same things (New England coach Bill) Belichick says. They have high football IQ, and for me, I think he helped my career a lot.”

Mason credits Moore with making him work to be an offensive lineman because that was where Moore saw him playing at the collegiate level.

“All I wanted to do was sack the quarterback and get tackles for losses, but he told me that I was going to play offensive line at the next level,” he said. “Sure enough, when I got to Georgia Tech, that’s where I played.”

Some might say that advice worked out well for the two-time Super Bowl champion.

Moore’s business-like approach as a coach was one players may not have understood — or even liked — at the time. Looking back now, however, that approach was part of what made those teams successful.

“He ran a tight ship, and didn’t play around. He had direction and discipline. I didn’t always like him, but I respected him as a coach. He would bring the best out of a kid. He knows the game,” former quarterback Zach Tate said.

Matthew Markham added: “He was tough on me, and if anyone could have any ill will toward him, it would’ve been me, but I didn’t see it that way.

“He was very tough on me Monday through Thursday, and because of that, Fridays were easy.”

For those players to have such fond memories and recollection, Moore said it was a “good feeling.”

“Any time anybody says complimentary things about you, it validates what you were trying to achieve,” he said. “Everybody wants to win, but for me, the biggest thing I learned about football is the relationships you develop. I’ve got life-long friends with guys I’ve coached with, coached against and even players.

“Zach Tate calls me John, and it’s a little weird, but it’s OK because that’s the type of relationship we’ve built.”

“Some people might think he’s a hard coach and he gets on to kids, but that’s what you want as a player. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything. That prepared me for coaches like Paul Johnson and Bill Belichick,” Mason said. “There are a lot of coaches who are soft, but he’s not going to let you goof off in practice.

“He’s going to have fun when it’s time to have fun, but when it’s time to work, it’s time to work.”

Mason’s mother, Alicia McGuire, said Moore was one of the few people who followed through on promises to visit Georgia Tech to watch her son play in college. Goff mentioned the connection he kept with Moore throughout the last decade as well.

“He stayed in touch with me over the years even when I was in college. He never left our side even after we finished playing for him,” he said.

Raiders welcome alumnus to grid coaching staff

By Maurice Patton

Ben Martin and the Spring Hill Raiders continue to be the beneficiaries of an unsettled situation involving their county – and Region 6-5A – gridiron rival.

Jason Hoath becomes the third member of last year’s Columbia Central coaching staff to relocate within Maury County in the 10 days since his firing after five seasons as the Lions’ head coach.

“No. 1, the kind of man he is, the character and everything he brings,” Martin said in touting the value of Hoath joining his staff after Saturday’s announcement that ex-Central defensive coordinator Josh Taylor and former Lion two-way playing standout and defensive assistant Montana Cairns would be on the Raiders’ sideline this fall.

“He’s also a very accomplished coach, with multiple years of head coaching experience. He’s a good coach. As I said with Josh and Montana, they’ve coached in our new region. He’s been a head coach in our new region. That’s an invaluable asset.”

A 2003 Spring Hill graduate, Hoath — a three-sport athlete during his high school days who went on to earn all-conference and all-American honors at Lambuth — will likely have offensive and defensive coaching assignments under Martin.

“We haven’t had a chance to sit down and talk yet, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to help on both sides of the ball and pretty confident he’ll be a huge help,” Martin said. “Montana has already taken over the defensive line and has jumped in with both feet. He’s going to bring a lot of youth and enthusiasm as well as knowledge. Josh is learning terminology right now. We’re doing a lot of the same things; there’s just different names for it.

“A lot of times, when you bring in new coaches, it’s a learning curve – you have to work on chemistry. With those guys, it’s built-in chemistry. They mesh very well with what we do. I think it’s going to be a positive all around.”

With much of the staff already set, Hoath is content to get in where he fits in under Martin.

“I’m excited that Coach Martin gave me an opportunity to join his staff,” said Hoath, 11-12 in two season at Mt. Pleasant before going 23-31 over the past five years with the Lions. “There’s a lot of good things going on at Spring Hill. I’m excited to be a part of it and get into the building as a teacher. I’m looking forward to a new, fresh start.

“I would imagine defensively I’ll be (working with) the secondary, either with the safeties or the cornerbacks. Offensively, I’ve got a little experience coaching all the positions, so I guess I’ll be wherever they need me.”

Meanwhile, Hoath’s sons – freshman running back/linebacker Nate and junior tight end/defensive end Jase – continue to practice at Columbia Central.

“I’m hoping they follow me, but it’s still up in the air,” he said. “No final decision’s been made. It’s tough for Jase, being a junior. I want them with me, but I’ll love ‘em no matter what.

“They’re good ballplayers and good young men. I want them to continue to do the right thing. Until a decision’s been made, they need to be there practicing and getting better at football and preparing for the season and being good teammates. It’s been difficult, but I know they’re going to be successful no matter what they do.”

Dialogue between Martin and former Central offensive coordinator Scott Tilghman continues, but no decision has been made regarding his addition to the staff.

The personnel changes, as the 2021 campaign starts in a month, promise to make the Oct. 29 “Backyard Bowl” regular-season finale between the Lions and host Spring Hill an even more energetic event.

“That’s never much of an issue,” Martin said, “but we may not need the pyrotechnics to have the fireworks.”