Tag Archives: tssaa

Summit signalcaller Wade saves his best efforts for last

By Maurice Patton

Winners of the 2020 TSSAA Tennessee Titans Mr. Football awards were decided prior to postseason play.

So Destin Wade’s playoff performance won’t figure into his chances to walk away with that hardware at the Dec. 8 luncheon.

But there’s no doubt his efforts have played a massive role in Summit’s return to the Class 5A state championship game, and will have a say in whether the Spartans conclude that second straight appearance with a crown during this weekend’s BlueCross Bowl contest against Oak Ridge.

“He’s definitely one of those kids that, as a coach, you might get the opportunity to coach once,” said Henry County’s James Counce Jr., the most recent coach to watch Wade end his team’s season. “You might, if you’re lucky, you might get to coach a guy like that sometime in your career.

“He’s special.”

Since the calendar turned to November, the junior signalcaller has put up numbers that make his regular season look relatively pedestrian, even as he paced the 2019 state runners-up to a 9-1 campaign that included four ‘COVID’ wins.

In victories over Hillwood (42-6), Region 5-5A rival Columbia Central (28-14), Beech (36-29) and Henry County (35-21) – the last two on the road – Wade has accounted for 1,258 offensive yards and 16 total touchdowns. He’s gained 72 percent of the team’s total offense and all but five of the Spartans’ TDs.

RushingPassingPass TDs/intsTotal yardsTeam yards
vs. Hillwood (42-6)3-44-15-8-853/0129401
vs. Columbia Central (28-14)26-242-37-12-811/0323389
at Beech (36-29)29-194-113-17- 2184/0412448
at Henry Co. (35-21)24-221-26-9-1731/0394507
Playoff totals82-701-731-46- 5579/012581745

“He’s definitely a guy that they could probably be OK without, but they’re really danged good when they’ve got him. He is a difference maker,” said Counce, whose team led 14-7 early in the third quarter of their semifinal matchup Friday before Wade led a 28-point second-half outburst by throwing for a game-tying score and running for two in the final eight minutes.

Wade, the only Class 5A Mr. Football finalist still playing – Knoxville Central’s Kalib Fortner and David Crockett’s Prince Kollie are the other two candidates – accounted for just three scores in Summit’s most recent victory, after running and passing for at least four in each of the Spartans’ three earlier wins. He had a hand in all five touchdowns while rallying his squad for a 36-29 quarterfinal triumph at Beech.

“The first thing you notice when you come out there is his size,” Hillwood coach Tom Moore said of the 6-4, 205-pounder. “You can’t tell on film how big he is. He’s a huge kid. Then the second thing is how well he runs, how well he moves. He’s got good lateral movement, he can accelerate. You think you’ve got an angle on him, and he’s past you and he’s gone. We said he’s like a Cam Newton out there.

“You’re certainly concerned with him dropping back and passing, throwing the ball, but we were more concerned with him running the ball. You’ve almost got to ‘spy’ a linebacker or a safety when he drops back to pass.”

Through 10 games — six regular-season contests and four playoff matchups — Summit junior Destin Wade has compiled 2,684 offensive yards and 34 total touchdowns. The Spartans and their Class 5A Mr. Football finalist will face Oak Ridge in Friday’s state championship game at Tennessee Tech. (Photo by Sarah Yow / SM-Tn Sports)

He’s been dangerous in both facets offensively – throwing for 557 postseason yards with nine touchdowns (and no interceptions), while rushing for 194 or more yards in each of his last three outings.

“I’d say he seemed more hungry in the playoffs,” Central coach Jason Hoath said after Wade rushed for 242 yards (seven short of his season high, set in the opener at Independence) three scores during Summit’s second-round victory. “Not that he wasn’t in the regular season, but you could tell he was definitely kicking it up a notch in the playoffs.

“He’s had a heck of a season. The fact that he’s a true dual-threat quarterback – it’s a lot more difficult when you have to defend all 11 guys as opposed to 10, when your quarterback is a running threat. He’ll definitely play a big role; he’ll be the key to their offense. They’re fundamentally sound. They’re going to play ‘responsibility’ football, they’re not going to make a whole lot of mistakes. They’ve got a group of guys that play well as a team and rely on each other. You add an elite athlete on top of that? That’s a good combination.”

Coming behind a regular season that saw him compile 713 rushing yards, 713 passing yards and 18 total TDs in parts of six games, Wade’s fall-long performance has undoubtedly earned the attention of Joe Gaddis and the Oak Ridge coaching staff in preparation for Friday’s 7 p.m. game at Tennessee Tech’s Tucker Stadium.

“He’s a great athlete, a great football player,” Gaddis said. “He’s a great running threat and passing threat. To watch him throw all the passes he throws, with accuracy – he’s special, a great quarterback.”

Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. E-mail: mopattonsports@gmail.com; Twitter: @mopatton_sports.

Spartans signalcaller named Class 5A Mr. Football finalist

By Maurice Patton

Destin Wade became the second Summit player in four years to be named a TSSAA Tennessee Titans Mr. Football finalist, as the Spartans junior quarterback joined fellow Class 5A honorees Kalib Fortner of Knoxville Central and Prince Kollie of David Crockett in being so recognized during an online announcement Tuesday.

The winner will be named during a Dec. 8 ceremony at Nissan Stadium.

“It’s great for the program,” Summit coach Brian Coleman said as the Spartans approach Friday’s Class 5A state playoff quarterfinal matchup with host Beech. “Tai (Carter) was a great kid, a great player, and Destin’s a great kid, a great player.

“It’s great recognition for him, it’s great for the team, and he’s always going to give credit to the guys in front of him. I think it shows we’re doing things right as a program, that we’re getting these type accolades.”

Despite playing just six games during the regular season because of the pandemic – and seeing limited action in some of those – Wade has rushed for 999 yards and thrown for 879 yards, while accounting for 26 total touchdowns, including playoff victories over Hillwood and Columbia Central.

“We’re not chasing numbers with him,” Coleman said. “Against Spring Hill (in Week 2), we were up three scores and we pulled him at halftime. We’re trying to keep him healthy, and he’s fine with that. People need to see that and take that into account and do the math. I appreciate their understanding that that’s how his numbers were.”

Carter was a 2017 Class 5A finalist, rushing for 1,225 yards and 14 touchdowns before sustaining a season-ending knee injury as Summit advanced to the state quarterfinals and lost 21-16 to Beech. Knoxville Catholic’s Cade Mays was named the winner, with Southwind’s Jordan Davis also a finalist. Carter is currently playing at Tennessee Tech.

Coming off a trip to the state finals a year ago, Wade has helped the Spartans to an 11-1 performance thus far.

“He showed Friday night – if we need a big play, he’s a big playmaker,” Coleman said, referring to Wade’s 242-yard, three-TD rushing performance along with a passing score in Summit’s 28-14 win over Columbia Central.

“I guess that’s been reflected and seen across the state by the coaches and the media, and it’s great to see. And he goes (into the season) thinking he’s got his twin brother with him before Keaten gets the injury – a lot falls on his shoulders, and he’s embraced it and done a great job with that also.”

Independence senior quarterback Jaxson Campbell, who had been named a Class 6A Mr. Football semifinalist, did not make the finalist cut despite 1,976 passing yards, 721 rushing yards and 34 total touchdowns in 10 games as the Eagles advanced to the second round of the state playoffs.

The full list of Tennessee Titans Mr. Football finalists follows:

CLASS 1A — Hunter Frame, South Pittsburg; Kyler Parker, Moore Co.; Jared Stone, South Pittsburg

CLASS 2A — Khalik Ganaway, Peabody; Will Meadows, Meigs Co.; Luke Myers, South Greene

CLASS 3A — Anthony Brown, Milan; Grey Carroll, Alcoa; Martino Owens, Pearl-Cohn

CLASS 4A — Troy Parker Hughes, Elizabethton; Rivers Hunt, Hardin Co.; Bryson Rollins, Elizabethton

CLASS 5A — Kalib Fortner, Knoxville Central; Prince Kollie, David Crockett; Destin Wade, Summit

CLASS 6A — Jake Briningstool, Ravenwood; Jalen Hunt, McMinn Co.; C.J. Taylor, Warren Co.

DIVISION II-A — Jon Lewis, Donelson Chr.; Aaron Smith, Jackson Chr.; Griffin Swinea, Davidson Acad.

DIVISION II-AA — James Dunn, Christian Acad. of Knoxville; Langston Patterson, Christ Presbyterian Acad.; Dietrick Pennington, Evangelical Chr.

DIVISION II-AAA — B.J. Harris, McCallie; Dallan Hayden, Christian Brothers; D.C. Tabscott, Father Ryan

KICKER OF THE YEAR — Teagen Lenderink, Brentwood Acad.; Trey Turk, Oakland; Connor Wood, Lexington

Independence football shut down due to COVID-19

SM-Tn Sports

With a critical Region 6-6A game against Brentwood scheduled for Friday, Independence’s football team has been shut down for at least the rest of this week due to COVID-19 protocols.

According to an email obtained by SM-Tn Sports, Independence has closed its campus due to a high number of COVID-19 contact tracing until at least Monday, Oct. 5.

All extra-curricular activities, including Friday night’s football game with fifth-ranked Brentwood, have been postponed. If the game cannot be rescheduled, it would be ruled as a forfeit win for Brentwood and a no-contest for Independence.

Independence becomes the fifth area school to have to postpone or cancel games due to COVID-19, joining Columbia Academy, Mt. Pleasant, Richland and Spring Hill. CA is still in a two-week quarantine and will also miss its game Friday against Jackson Christian.

TSSAA Hall of Fame postponed for the second time

The 2020 TSSAA Hall of Fame luncheon and induction ceremony is once again being postponed, this time to next spring.

The honorees selected in 2020, including former Columbia Daily Herald sports editor Marion Wilhoite, will be inducted on Saturday, April 17, 2021 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. It is set to begin at 11:00 a.m. CST. Only the class from 2020 will be inducted on that day and the Hall of Fame committee will not make selections in 2021.

“We are hopeful that we can proceed as usual in April and are looking forward to honoring this wonderful group of administrators, coaches, officials, and contributor at that time,” said Heather Carter, coordinator of the Hall of Fame festivities.

Ticket forms will be made available on the TSSAA website and mailed to all Hall of Fame members in February.

The individuals being inducted at the 2021 luncheon are: Barbara Daush, administrator from Memphis; Turner Jackson, administrator from Cleveland; Clint Parnell, administrator from Nashville; Bobby Alston, coach from Memphis; Buck Coatney, coach from Knoxville; Carolyn Jackson, coach from Chattanooga; Jeff Morris, coach from Milan and Shelby Miller, official from Elizabethton.

BOC to consider four classes for basketball, baseball, softball at Monday meeting

By Maurice Patton

Is a change gon’ come for Tennessee high school basketball, baseball and softball?

Coaches in those sports are hopeful that classification for the 2021-23 period will place Division I programs in one of four classes – a departure from the three-class system that has existed since 1976.

During a Monday meeting at Siegel High School in Murfreesboro, the TSSAA Board of Control will take up the topic of classifying Division I and D-II schools for the following two school years, based on 20-day enrollment figures for the current year.

Coaches in the three sports have long campaigned for what is generally seen as a more equitable system than the one now in place, which at the Class AAA level sees schools such as Spring Hill — which reported an enrollment of 1,053 in 2016, the basis for the current classifications — potentially competing against schools more than twice its size.

“If you’re in that third class, there’s no cap to the (enrollment of the) schools you’re competing against,” Raider baseball coach Paul Lamm said. “That starts adding up.”

The disparity in enrollments is particularly stark for Spring Hill, one of three schools that plays in Region 4-4A for football – along with Tullahoma and Lawrence County – that plays in Class AAA basketball, baseball and softball.

Columbia Central (2016 reported enrollment: 1333) isn’t far removed from a similar fate. Boys basketball coach Nick Campbell sees how a four-class structure would be beneficial to the Lions as well.

Columbia Central’s Nick Campbell is among the Tennessee high school basketball coaches advocating for a change to a four-class system, which will be discussed Monday during the TSSAA Board of Control meeting in Murfreesboro. The classification change is also encouraged by a number of baseball and softball coaches across the state. (Photo by Ric Beu)

“We’d likely get away from Murfreesboro in regional play,” said Campbell, referring to District 8-AAA matching up with the Rutherford County-based District 7-AAA to form Region 4-AAA. Four of the eight teams from District 7-AAA reported enrollments of 2,000 or more in 2016, and all except Rockvale – which did not open until last fall – had enrollments of at least 1,700.

“We’ve only got three teams since 2010 that have won a region game,” Campbell added. “It would definitely level the playing field a little.”

All three coaches associations are in favor of four classes, though the change would have its potential drawbacks.

“We think people have finally seen the disparity. In Class AAA, you could have a school with 1,100 playing a school with 2,400,” said Pat Swallows, executive director of the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association.

The primary concern is that the state tournament format may change with four classes. As opposed to quarterfinal, semifinal and championship games taking place at a central site with three classes, the tourney participants may be limited to four teams.

“I think if that’s the case, some would rather stay at three (classes),” Swallows said. “Going to the state tournament is any athlete’s dream. Cutting the number of athletes that can go – when there’s plenty of fields … You can figure something out.”

Both John Conditt, executive director of the Tennessee High School Softball Coaches Association, and Basketball Coaches Association of Tennessee executive director Bruce Slatten echoed Swallows’ sentiments.

Bernard Childress, executive director of the TSSAA, said four classes were discussed during the last reclassification talks in 2016.

“The reason we didn’t the last time is, I think we (the state office) gave the Board too much to consider,” he said. “We presented 48 different plans. I think they got overwhelmed.

“What we need to preserve is regular-season travel. If the schools are willing to except (longer travel distances), … We can do four classes and still have districts.”

Childress clarified, however, that while the enrollment gaps will be lessened with four classes, they won’t go away.

“There’s always going to be disparities,” he said. “Whoever’s at the bottom – somebody’s going to be upset.”

Meanwhile, officials at Zion Christian Academy have submitted a request for Division II to adapt three classes — rather than two — for basketball.

The request sent to the TSSAA by Zion athletics director Derek Boyd places 32 schools in DII-A, with 20 in DII-AA (smallest, enrollment 266) and 12 in DII-AAA (smallest, enrollment 431). The breakdown closely resembles the classes currently set for Division II football.

“It’s not perfectly done,” Boyd said. “It’s just showing that, I feel like – transportation-wise, it’d be OK. In Division II-AAA, they’ve always traveled quite a bit anyway.

“I think giving the smaller schools a chance to compete would be a good thing.”

Zion Christian has also requested to continue playing a non-region football schedule for the 2021 and ’22 seasons.

Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. E-mail: mopattonsports@gmail.com; Twitter: @mopatton_sports.

Columbia Academy football opener at Marshall County cancelled for viral reasons

By Maurice Patton

As it now stands, Columbia Academy’s season-opening football game will be its home opener as well.

Officials from both schools confirmed Saturday the Bulldogs’ scheduled trip Friday to Marshall County has been canceled in the aftermath of an increase in COVID-19 cases, which have forced the Lewisburg school to go to virtual classes for the next two weeks beginning Monday.

CA will now open on Aug. 28 against visiting Shelbyville.

“We feel for Marshall County and Coach (Thomas) Osteen. We wish those players all the luck and good health in the near future,” Bulldogs coach Charlie Lansdell said. “In the meantime, we’re going to do everything we can to keep our kids safe and make that a priority.”

“I definitely think it’s the best decision for both schools,” CA athletics director Pernell Knox added. “We don’t want to put our kids in that situation. They don’t have all their players; you don’t know who has it or who doesn’t.

“Canceling is the best option all around. It’s a non-region game. We both have bigger fish to fry, and we’re hoping it’s going to be a long season for us both.”

Bryant Beranek (12) and his Columbia Academy teammates will have to wait another week to open their football season, following Saturday’s announcement that the Bulldogs will not play Friday at Marshall County. (Photo by Ric Beu)

Osteen said contact tracing has indicated a possibility of positive cases within the team, but nothing definitive is known at this point.

“We have some cases at school,” he said. “But with the COVID rubric we’re following – not a single bit has happened during football practice. According to the rubric, you’ve got to be within six feet of someone who has it for 10 continuous minutes. That never happens in football.

“They either sat beside someone in homeroom or in class or at lunch. I’m 100 percent against virtual classes, but to play football, that looks like it’s going to be the best option for us to play.”

Osteen said the Tigers had two positive cases over the summer, but declined to comment on the current status of any team member.

Lansdell observed that the schedule could continue to be similarly fluid as the season progresses.

“I think every week could bring about challenges at this point,” he said. “I hope cases go down and we start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I feel we’re very fortunate in where we are, in regards to health. We don’t have any players missing because of the virus.”

Lansdell added that the decision to not play Friday was reached mutually between officials from both schools.

“There are no bad guys when something like this comes about,” he said. “It’s something we as coaches and administrators have to use our best discretion and what we know to make the hard decisions.”

Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. E-mail: mopattonsports@gmail.com; Twitter: @mopatton_sports.