Tag Archives: Independence

Even in the spring, it’s football time in Tennessee

SM-Tn Sports

Local high school football teams continue to work toward the 2021 season, with most wrapping up spring drills over the next couple of weeks – if not already.

Southern Middle Tennessee Sports reached out to coaches with each of the 11 programs in our coverage area to check on their progress as classes wind down and summer workouts approach, as well as update their new regions for the upcoming campaign, last year’s record and this year’s schedule.

COLUMBIA ACAD. (2-6 in 2020), Division II-A Middle

Coach: Charlie Lansdell (9th season)

● What is your biggest comfort as you consider your 2021 team?
“Knowing we have the spring and summer to prepare for the upcoming season. We’ve had some great leadership in the offseason.”

● What is your biggest concern as you consider your 2021 team?
“Being able to bounce back from a tough season; working on our mental toughness; getting back to where CA football has been and should be.”

● What is your primary objective for spring practice?
“Work on fundamentals, see who is ready to compete, look for our quarterback.”

● “All eyes on … “ what player or position during spring practice?
“The quarterback (candidates) — Nick Brown, Connor Rosson and Reid McGrath.”

● When does spring practice wrap up for your program? Do you have a spring game planned, and if so, when?
“Wraps up May 14; no spring game.”

● What is your 2021 schedule?
8/20       @Davidson Acad.
8/27       Waverly
9/3         @Jackson Chr.
9/10       @Franklin Road Acad.
9/17       Donelson Chr.*
9/24       Boyd Buchanan
10/1       @Mt. Juliet Chr.*
10/15     Nashville Chr.*
10/22     @Clarksville Acad.*
10/29     Grace Chr.*
*region game

COLUMBIA CENTRAL (6-6 in 2020), Region 6-5A

Coach: Jason Hoath (6th season)

● What is your biggest comfort as you consider your 2021 team?
“I like our overall team speed on defense. We will be undersized up front, but we will be quick off the ball. We are also returning four starters on the offensive line, our tight end and running backs.”

● What is your biggest concern as you consider your 2021 team?
“The biggest concern we have right now is who will be taking on the quarterback responsibilities. We will have three players competing for that spot and they have little to no varsity experience.”

● What is your primary objective for spring practice?
“We’re excited to see which players will step up to the challenge and compete for spots. We will have a chance to evaluate some new faces this spring and see what our potential will look like.”

● “All eyes on … “ what player or position during spring practice?
“Antwan Moore is a returning starter as a defensive end/linebacker. He was named to the (Tennessee Football Coaches Association) all-state team as a junior and (Region 5-5A defensive lineman of the year) in 2020. However, he has been sidelined this spring as a precaution from a previous injury. He will be ready to go this summer.”

● When does spring practice wrap up for your program? Do you have a spring game planned, and if so, when?
Columbia Central concluded spring drills with a Purple & White Game on May 7.

● What is your 2021 schedule?
8/20       Marshall Co.
8/27       @Dickson Co.
9/3         Franklin Co.*
9/10       @Green Hill
9/17       Nolensville*
9/24       @Mt. Pleasant
10/1       @Page*
10/8       Giles Co.
10/15     Lincoln Co.*
10/29     @Spring Hill*
*region game

INDEPENDENCE (7-3 in 2020), Region 7-6A

Coach: Scott Blade (9th season)

● What is your biggest comfort as you consider your 2021 team?
“Senior leadership; great attitudes.”

● What is your biggest concern as you consider your 2021 team?
“Offensive line depth; replacing our quarterback (U.S. Naval Academy signee, Class 6A Mr. Football semifinalist Jaxson Campbell).

● What is your primary objective for spring practice?
”Installation of schemes, answer personnel questions.”

● “All eyes on … “ what player or position during spring practice?
“(2023) running back Tre Hartwell (666 rushing yards, seven TDs in 2020) and (2023) tight end Ty Lockwood (45 catches, 605 yards, three TDs in 2020).

● When does spring practice wrap up for your program? Do you have a spring game planned, and if so, when?
“May 14. No spring game.”

● What is your 2021 schedule?
8/20       Christ Presbyerian Acad.
8/27       @Lipscomb Acad.
9/3         Centennial*
9/10       @Pope John Paul II
9/17       Franklin*
9/24       @East Nashville
10/1       Brentwood*
10/8       @Summit*
10/22     Page
10/29     @Ravenwood*
*region game

LAWRENCE CO. (4-5 in 2020), Region 5-4A

Coach: David Marston (19th season)

● What is your biggest comfort as you consider your 2021 team?
“Returning two linebackers, two defensive tackles and both corners as well as a quarterback (Alex Carr) who has started four years.”

● What is your biggest concern as you consider your 2021 team?
“Addressing our offensive line, defensive end, safety, running back and tight end/split end.”

● What is your primary objective for spring practice?
”Blocking, tackling, taking care of the football and being physical.”

● “All eyes on … “ what player or position during spring practice?
“Running backs, quarterback and young offensive line talent.”

● When does spring practice wrap up for your program? Do you have a spring game planned, and if so, when?
“May 11, weather permitting. No spring game.”

● What is your 2021 schedule?
8/20       Summertown
8/27       @Loretto
9/3         Montgomery Central*
9/10       Greenbrier*
9/17       @Pearl-Cohn*
9/24       @Glencliff*
10/1       @Marshall Co.*
10/15     Tullahoma*
10/22     Hillwood*
10/29     @Creek Wood*
*region game

LORETTO (5-6 in 2020), Region 5-2A

Coach: Barry Daniel (2nd season)

● What is your biggest comfort as you consider your 2021 team?
“The simple fact that I have established a relationship with all of the players. I know them so much better than I did at this point last season. They know me, they know my expectations and they are doing their best to meet them.”

● What is your biggest concern as you consider your 2021 team?
“We are going to have several guys back with playing experience, but we are going to have to find some depth. Some of our guys have had an awesome offseason and could fill a starting role but who is the “next man up”? Some players will have to learn more than one spot on both sides of the ball to provide depth.

● What is your primary objective for spring practice?
“To teach the basics of our systems on offense and defense. If our guys can know our base formations and plays, we can gain reps over the summer.”

● “All eyes on … “ what player or position during spring practice?
“Offensive line: This group has had a great off season of weight training. Can they transfer it to the field? Secondary: Must replace two starters from this unit. Two great players return, but who will complete the unit?”

● When does spring practice wrap up for your program? Do you have a spring game planned, and if so, when?
“Late in May. We are going to be short and sweet as many of our guys are still in baseball. No spring game.”

● What is your 2021 schedule?
8/20       @Collinwood
8/27       Lawrence Co.
9/3         @Forrest
9/10       Wayne Co.
9/17       Mt. Pleasant
9/24       @Lewis Co.
10/1       @Summertown
10/8       @Moore Co.
10/15     Cascade
10/29     Richland
*region game

MT. PLEASANT (1-8 in 2020), Region 5-2A

Coach: Kit Hartsfield (1st season)

● What is your biggest comfort as you consider your 2021 team?
“16 returning starters.”

● What is your biggest concern as you consider your 2021 team?
“(Installing) new systems on both sides of the ball and creating some depth.”

● What is your primary objective for spring practice?
“(Seeing) toughness, competitiveness, player development.”

● “All eyes on … “ what player or position during spring practice?
“The running back position with (Xavior) Davidson and (Keevan) Cooper shows a lot of potential. (Defensive end/tight end) Gavin Alderson has taken a giant step forward, enforcing his will. Several guys are doing good things. Jeffrey Williamson is turning heads at free safety.”

● When does spring practice wrap up for your program? Do you have a spring game planned, and if so, when?
“May 13. We will play a spring game beginning at 6 p.m.”

● What is your 2021 schedule?
8/20       East Hickman
8/27       @Scotts Hill
9/3         Cascade*
9/10       @Zion Chr.
9/17       @Loretto*
9/24       Columbia Central
10/1       Richland*
10/15     @Summertown*
10/22     Spring Hill
10/29     @Forrest*
*region game

RICHLAND (2-7 in 2020), Region 5-2A

Coach: Nick Patterson (4th season)

● What is your biggest comfort as you consider your 2021 team?
“Offensive line! All returning, all had big-time gains this offseason. It’s my fourth year here, so expectations are clear.”

● What is your biggest concern as you consider your 2021 team?
“New region, new classification.”

● What is your primary objective for spring practice?
“To find high-motor guys who are fully engaged in the process of competing every day.”

● “All eyes on … “ what player or position during spring practice?
“Linebackers – who’s gonna step up and lead our defense?”

● When does spring practice wrap up for your program? Do you have a spring game planned, and if so, when?
“We’ll have a spring game on May 21 to end practice.”

● What is your 2021 schedule?
8/19       @Cornersville
8/27       Zion Chr.
9/3         @Summertown*
9/10       Hickman Co.
9/17       Cascade*
10/1       @Mt. Pleasant*
10/8       Collinwood
10/15     Forrest*
10/22     @East Hickman
10/29     @Loretto*
*region game

SPRING HILL (3-6 in 2020), Region 6-5A

Coach: Ben Martin (4th season)

● What is your biggest comfort as you consider your 2021 team?
“I think we’ll have some strong senior leadership this season.”

● What is your biggest concern as you consider your 2021 team?
“Youth and game-time experience for most positions.”

● What is your primary objective for spring practice?
“Determine this year’s team identity; evaluate every position/player.”

● “All eyes on … “ what player or position during spring practice?
“I think Mac Richie (senior running back; 276 rushing yards, two TDs in 2020) will continue to be a solid player for us. Aiden St. Croix (seior receiver/defensive end) has really stepped his game up. Louis Alderette (senior receiver/defensive back) has outworked almost everyone in the offseason. I think it could be a breakout year for (junior running back) Kaiden Martin.”

● When does spring practice wrap up for your program? Do you have a spring game planned, and if so, when?
“We will wrap up May 15 with our annual Maroon and White Game at Buford Gladney Stadium at 7 p.m.”

● What is your 2021 schedule?
8/20       @Bowling Green (Ky.) Greenwood
8/27       Summit
9/3         @Page*
9/10       Lewis Co.
9/17       Lincoln Co.*
9/24       Coffee Co.
10/1       @Nolensville*
10/15     @Franklin Co.*
10/22     @Mt. Pleasant
10/29     Columbia Central*
*region game

SUMMERTOWN (3-6 in 2020), Region 5-2A

Coach: Dakota Crews (1st season)

● What is your biggest comfort as you consider your 2021 team?
“Our senior leadership.”

● What is your biggest concern as you consider your 2021 team?
“Learning a new offensive and defensive system this spring and summer. Our guys have responded well, but we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

● What is your primary objective for spring practice?
“To get our guys to compete. They’ve done a great job in the weight room and it has carried over into our spring practice. We’re trying to establish a culture of compete, compete, compete. In every drill, every play, every rep, every test in school, we want our guys competing.”

● “All eyes on … “ what player or position during spring practice?
“It’s hard to pinpoint one player or one position. (Quarterback) Colton Shaffer, (running back/receiver) Javen Edmiston and (receiver) Michael Abbott are a couple of our senior skill players to watch, but we have so many guys stepping up.”

● When does spring practice wrap up for your program? Do you have a spring game planned, and if so, when?
Summertown concluded spring practice with an intrasquad scrimmage on May 6.

● What is your 2021 schedule?
8/20       @Lawrence Co.
8/27       @Wayne Co.
9/3         Richland*
9/10       Collinwood
9/17       @Forrest*
9/24       @Zion Chr.
10/1       Loretto*
10/15     Mt. Pleasant*
10/22     Lewis Co.
10/29     @Cascade*
*region game

SUMMIT (14-1 in 2020), Region 7-6A

Coach: Brian Coleman (8th season)

● What is your biggest comfort as you consider your 2021 team?
“There’s not much to be comfortable about when moving up to 6A and one of the best regions in the state.”

● What is your biggest concern as you consider your 2021 team?
“Durability, with the grueling schedule we have. We will need to develop depth.”

● What is your primary objective for spring practice?
“Getting back to basics – blocking and tackling technique, etc.”

● “All eyes on … “ what player or position during spring practice?
“All eyes are usually on the Wade twins (quarterback Destin, a Class 5A Mr. Football finalist in 2020, and linebacker/defensive end Keaten; both are Kentucky commits).”

● When does spring practice wrap up for your program? Do you have a spring game planned, and if so, when?
“We will wrap up May 13, maybe with a Navy/White Game.”

● What is your 2021 schedule?
8/20       @Henry Co.
8/27       @Spring Hill
9/3         @Brentwood*
9/10       Blackman
9/17       Centennial*
9/24       Beech
10/1       Ravenwood*
10/8       Independence*
10/22     @Shelbyville
10/29     @Franklin*
*region game

ZION CHR. (4-6 in 2020)

Coach: Jeff Jordan (1st season)
*Acting coach James Dickinson submitted responses prior to Jordan’s hiring on May 6

● What is your biggest comfort as you consider your 2021 team?
“As of now we have no comfort. Numbers will be down this fall. There’s a lot of praying and planning at this point.”

● What is your biggest concern as you consider your 2021 team?
“The number of players we have to play this fall are a full work in progress. Offensive line and defensive line are a very big concern. We lost a lot of great players up front from last season.”

● What is your primary objective for spring practice?
“Getting new players out, working with all grades from 4th all the way up to 12th. Getting kids that have not been playing to buy in and play.”

● “All eyes on … “ what player or position during spring practice?
“With limited numbers, all eyes are on every player. We all know (senior quarterback/linebacker) Luke Perko is the key – an outstanding young man and a true leader.”

● When does spring practice wrap up for your program? Do you have a spring game planned, and if so, when?
“We’ll finish up the last week of classes. (Final day of school is May 20.) There will be no spring game.”

● What is your 2021 schedule?
8/20       Grace Chr.
8/27       @Richland
9/10       Mt. Pleasant
9/17       Eagleville
9/24       Summertown
10/1       @First Assembly Chr.
10/15     @Grundy Co.
10/22     @Wayne Co.
10/29     Cornersville

Top Raiders, Spartans, Eagles draw all-District 11-AAA kudos

SM-Tn Sports

Spring Hill pitcher Dawson Hargrove and outfielder Brantly Whitwell were each named first-team all-District 11-AAA, with Jackson Marbet and Quent Mizer earning second-team honors as the league’s coaches recognized their top performers this week.

Independence pitcher Will Tobin and infielder Logan Molnar were also named to the first team, along with Summit catcher Drew Plummer. Indy’s Jack Baughman and Cooper Hargrove are second-team honorees as are Summit’s John Cannella, Brady Hendrix, Alex Runk and Garrett Sims.

The teams in their entirety follow:

Player of the Year: Blake Bevis, Ravenwood; Pitcher of the Year: Lucas Kocian, Ravenwood; Coach of the Year: Danny Borne, Ravenwood.

All-District first team: P – Paul Delligatti, Brentwood; Dawson Hargrove, Spring Hill; Brooks McDonnough, Brentwood; A.J. Russell, Franklin; Will Tobin, Independence; C – Andrew Dudas, Ravenwood; Drew Plummer, Summit; 1B – Ryan Augustini, Ravenwood; INF – Ben Caylor, Brentwood; Carson Garner, Franklin; Austin Johnson, Ravenwood; Logan Molnar, Independence; Ben Severance, Ravenwood; OF – Sam Billington, Brentwood; Scott Collins, Brentwood; Eston Snider, Page; Brantly Whitwell, Spring Hill; UTIL – Eli Potter, Dickson Co.

All-District second team: Andrew Billington, Jack Morris, Aaron Walton (Brentwood); Ben Brown (Centennial); Seth Creasy, Adam Roth, Clinton Schrader, Riley Ward (Dickson Co.); Joseph Waters, Graham Wood (Franklin); Jack Baughman, Cooper Hargrove (Independence); Davis Lomenick, Cason Walker (Page); Myles Denton (Ravenwood); Jackson Marbet, Quent Mizer (Spring Hill); John Cannella, Brady Hendrix, Alex Runk, Garrett Sims (Summit).

Indy tabs young multi-sport coach to lead mat program

By Maurice Patton

A.J. Villarreal, who has coached four different sports since arriving at Centennial in February 2020, has been named wrestling coach at Independence.

The 25-year-old Illinois native is set to succeed Bryan Youngsma at the helm of the Eagles’ program, Youngsma having served on an interim basis following Jared Grindstaff’s resignation last summer.

“It’s definitely a surreal feeling,” the Wisconsin-La Crosse graduate said. “I didn’t think I’d accelerate through the ranks this quickly, but I’m glad I did. I’m definitely excited about it.”

After playing football and wrestling through his high school career at Lyons Township (Ill.), Villarreal pursued both at the college level. However, injuries prevented him from getting on the mat at UW-La Crosse.

Upon his December 2019 graduation, his job search eventually brought him to Middle Tennessee.

“I was initially hired as a teacher, and worked my way into athletics,” he said. “I just showed up at stuff, and I got brought onto both (football and wrestling) staffs.”

Villarreal assisted with the Cougars’ defensive secondary last fall as well as with the wrestling program, which advanced 152-pounder Alex Ables to the state tournament earlier this year. Additionally, he established a bass fishing club at the school, and works with the sprinters on the Centennial track team.

“Coach Villarreal is going to be a great asset to the Independence community, not just the wrestling team,” Centennial wrestling coach Philip Pelkey said. “Not only does he have a ton of knowledge in wrestling, but also does a great job of forming relationships with his athletes.

“I have no doubt that he is going to do a great job over there and continue to build on the success that Indy has had over the years. We hate to see him go, but wish him all the best.”

Picking up where Youngsma — and Grindstaff before him – left off is the expectation awaiting Villarreal.

“He just loves working with kids,” Independence principal Niki Patton said. “I think he’s an ‘all-in’ guy, based on the people I’ve been talking to, willing to help whenever and wherever he can.”

Stepping in after Grindstaff accepted an administrative position at Mill Creek Middle School, Youngsma led Independence to the Class AAA state dual sectionals and coached three Eagles – Russell Ford, Tanner Willett and Gabriel Hall – to individual region titles.

“When Coach Grindstaff resigned last year, it was in mid-June,” Patton said. “Because of the timing, most of our teaching vacancies were already filled by that point. We approached Coach Youngsma to give us one year so that we could be able to find the right candidate once we had more teaching positions available.

“He’ll still be here teaching and will likely still be involved with the program. We’re very appreciative of him stepping into that for us temporarily.”

Villarreal compared the situation at Independence favorably to the climate in which he grew up.

“I gravitated toward it because of the culture that’s been built – from kids club, through middle school up into high school,” he said. “It reminded me a lot of what I had in Illinois, where the kids club is almost a direct feeder to the high school.

“For me, wrestling and football go hand-in-hand. I’m hoping I can get more athletes doing both sports and better both programs.”

Three homers not enough for Indy softball

By Chris Yow

THOMPSONS STATION — Independence belted three home runs on Sunday, but all three were solo shots, and Dickson County was able to take a 10-4 road win in District 11-AAA play.

The Cougars sent three groundball singles through the infield in the first inning and a pair of runs crossed the plate. In the bottom half, Indy senior Morgan Brown launched a solo home run over the left field fence to cut the lead to 2-1.

Brown called the home run a bittersweet moment. Although scheduled to play a final home game against Centennial this week, weather forecasts may not allow the game to be played. If this was her final home game, hitting a home run in it was certainly special.

“I didn’t even think about it like that, but now I’m kind of sad,” she said. “It’s a bittersweet moment.”

The Eagles tied the game in the second inning with another solo home run, this one from Leah Oubre also to left field. McKinlee Webb went deep in the fifth inning as well.

The fourth inning, however, was the distancing point for the Lady Cougars. With the bases loaded and two outs, a ground ball was fielded by Webb when a Cougar runner stopped just shy of the play brushing against the shortstop and the throw was late to first.

Libbie Wilson made the Lady Eagles pay on the next at-bat with a grand slam to put her team up 8-2.

Independence scored a run in the bottom of the fourth when Mo Brown walked and found her way home.

Area sports upcoming

Monday
Baseball

Santa Fe at Fayetteville, 5 p.m.
Summertown at Eagleville, 5 p.m.
Cascade at Richland, 5:30 p.m.
Columbia Central at Stewarts Creek, 6 p.m.
Loretto at Giles Co., 6 p.m.
Ravenwood at Independence*, 6 p.m.
Brentwood at Spring Hill*, 6:30 p.m.
#Grace Chr. at Columbia Acad., 6:30 p.m.
Summit at Page*, 6:30 p.m.
#Christ Presbyterian Acad. at Middle Tenn. Chr.

Softball

Independence at Father Ryan, 5 p.m.
Mt. Pleasant at Frank Hughes, 5 p.m.
#Grace Chr. at Zion Chr., 5 p.m.
East Hickman at Culleoka, 5:30 p.m.
Spring Hill at Ravenwood*, 5:30 p.m.
Marshall Co. at Richland, 6 p.m.
#Donelson Chr. at Davidson Acad.
#Clarksville Acad. at Nashville Chr.
#Battle Ground Acad. at Christ Presbyterian Acad.

Boys soccer

Columbia Acad. at Giles Co., 6 p.m.
Independence at Page*, 7 p.m.
Rossview at Columbia Central, 7 p.m.

*district game
#postseason game

Coaches are encouraged to submit schedules and results to sports@sm-tnsports.com

Columbia Academy’s Henson, Columbia Central’s Woodson grab Great Eight victories

SM-Tn Sports

Connor Henson and Roman Woodson each turned in championship performances Tuesday at the Great Eight Invitational track meet at Vanderbilt.

Henson, the defending Division II-A state cross country champion, ran a four-minute, 16.76-second 1,600 meters to finish ahead of Brentwood High’s Kevin Vanderkolk by more than three seconds. The Columbia Academy junior’s previous best this season had been a 4:17.01.

Woodson, a Columbia Central senior, posted a 23-feet, 8¾-inch long jump effort to outdistance Green Hill’s Marzeion Jones by more than five inches. His Tuesday leap was almost a foot better than his qualifying mark of 22-9½.

Henson also finished fourth in the 3,200 meters, running a 9:33.45 – and shaving nearly a second off his season-best 9:34.28. Martin Luther King’s Miles Ally won the event with an 8:56.29.

Columbia Central’s Lillian Moore placed fourth in the 300-meter hurdles. After qualifying with a 48.96, she ran a 46.66 Tuesday, two seconds off the winning pace of 44.40 set by Ensworth’s Gianna Bullock and just behind third-place finisher Georgia Cockerham (46.44) of Summit.

Summit’s Jadon Hickman placed fourth in the 300 hurdles (41.76) and seventh in the 110 hurdles (17.57).

Independence’s Julia Halterman finished second in the 3,200 with an 11:18.34, with Jayne Halterman running a 4:55.63 for third place in the 1,600. Sarah Tang posted a pair of fifth-place finishes in the throwing events, with a 35-11 in the shot put and a 104-10 in the discus.

Complete results can be found here.

Courtesy photos by Mike Strasinger / SportsNashville.com