Record-setting play helps Central beat LaVergne

Kaitlyn Hungerford • Mt. Juliet News
Wilson Central running back Stratton Farmer tries to break a LaVergne tackle.

LAVERGNE — Turnovers had been Wilson Central’s undoing during a six-loss season.

They turned out to be the difference in the Wildcats’ 38-14 win over host LaVergne on Friday night.

But the play the Wildcats will probably most talk about is the record-setting 99-yard pass from Aaron Hubbell to Garrett Todd which opened a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. Coach Brad Dedman, who has been at Central all but one year (when he was at LaVergne, ironically) since its 2001 opening, couldn’t remember another 99-yard scoring play in the Wildcats’ 17 seasons.

“As much speed as they got, it’s hard to happen,” Dedman said. “They missed a tackle and we were able to run it the rest of the way. Hats off to the throw and hats off to the catch.”

Central owned the first 18 minutes or so as Ries Adkisson recovered a LaVergne fumble on the Wolverines’ first offensive play. Hubbell, who had just flipped a 32-yard swing pass for a touchdown to Stratton Farmer, hit Dalton King on a 7-yard slant for a 14-0 lead.

“Our guys definitely performed well tonight,” Dedman said. “We had a good week of preparation all week long. When you have a good week it shows up on the field on Friday night, and tonight it showed up.”

But after the 99-yard home run, LaVergne which was stopped on downs at the Central 7-yard line on its previous series to set up the long score, regrouped and drove to a 1-yard touchdown run by A.J. Wallace to slice the margin to 21-7 by halftime.

Central had trouble tackling Montez Gray, who ran for 192 yards on 20 carries. He had 61 on a touchdown down the left side to bring LaVergne to within 21-14.

Then Hubbell, who hit 8 of 13 passes for 196 yards, was intercepted on a jump ball. But Central got the ball right back three plays later when King recovered a fumble. Hubbell muscled in a 1-yard scoring sneak to turn the tide at 28-14.

Will LaFollete lined a 28-yard field goal through the linemen and just over the crossbar for a 31-14 lead late in the third quarter. Kwamez Kirby capped the scoring with a10-yard jet sweep midway through the fourth quarter as the Wildcats climbed to 2-6 going into their bye week.

“The turnovers were the key to the game,” Dedman said. “It got the momentum back to our side. We were able to keep it the rest of the time.”

A plethora of Wildcat runners accumulated 204 yards in a balanced attack. LaVergne, which saw a two-game winning streak end to fall to 2-6, was one-dimensional as while the Wolverines ran for 236 yards, they had just three through the air as Drew Warren led the pass rush with a pair of sacks.

Following the bye week, Wilson Central will welcome Lebanon at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 as the Wildcats look to find a way to slow the Blue Devils’ playoff push.

Golden Bears rumble past Raiders

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
Mt. Juliet receiver Alvin Mixon catches this 21-yard touchdown pass on a post pattern from quarterback Cody Glass in the second quarter.

NASHVILLE — A hard hit on the opening kickoff resulted in a Mt. Juliet fumble.

That was about the last bad thing that happened to the Golden Bears in a 42-6 win at McGavock on Thursday night.

Mt. Juliet’s rock-solid defense turned back the Raiders before turning it over to the offense, which saw Aidan Raines rush for three first-half touchdowns and 111 of his 126 yards for a 28-6 halftime lead.

Quarterback Cody Glass accounted for the other three touchdowns, on a beautiful 21-yard strike to wideout Alvin Mixon on a post pattern in the second quarter and a screen which Colby Martin took 46 yards to the house in the third period. Glass, who was an efficient 10-of-13 passing for 145 yards, called his own number in the fourth quarter and found nothing but green grass in the 27 yards between the line of scrimmage and the goal line for the final score as Mt. Juliet improved to 8-0 going into the bye week.

Glass’ scoring run came after McGavock made defensive adjustments to stunt into the backfield and throw the Bear backs for loss after being gashed for most of the first three quarters.

“(Glass) did a really good job of handling that,” Mt. Juliet coach Trey Perry said. “They did get some penetration. They got some good guys up front, too. When we had the opportunity, we tried to offset that with our quarterback, either running the football or with our (run-pass option) system. Colby Martin, our slot, got a couple of big catches and Connor Ruzek. That hopefully kept them more off balance.”

Mt. Juliet held McGavock to 205 total yards. Elusive running back Ta’micus Napier finished with just 49 net rushing yards, though 19 came on the Raiders’ only touchdown late in the first quarter, cutting the Golden Bear lead to 14-6. Quarterback Harley Neal passed for 51 yards on 7-of-19 but led the home team in rushing with 65 yards on nine carries, 52 came on one play to set up the Napier score.

McGavock, one of Metro Nashville’s more improved teams, fell to 5-3.

“We challenged the group this week about it not being the same football team we saw last year,” Mt. Juliet coach Trey Perry said. “No. 7 (Napier) is a stud.

“And we got better tonight just trying to tackle him.”

After a bye week, Mt. Juliet will celebrate Senior Night on Oct. 20 when Station Camp comes in as the Golden Bears, who will close the campaign Oct. 27 at Hendersonville, try to nail down their second straight region, in this case Region 4-6A, championship.

“There are scenarios out there where we could (clinch) before Hendersonville, but Station Camp is too proud and good a program to think one step past them,” Perry said.

Former Central standout wins college tournament

Blain Turner

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Trevecca freshman Blain Turner won his first career tournament with a medalist-worthy three-under par (69-72=141) at the Dan Salisbury Memorial hosted by the University of Illinois-Springfield at the Panther Creek Country Club last weekend. 

 The former Wilson Central star led the tournament in par three scoring averaging a two-under par 2.75.  He also finished second in the field with eight birdies and third with 24 pars.

 His 141 36-hole total is tied for the eighth lowest tournament score in Trevecca’s program history.

 Turner’s 69 on Saturday is the 12th lowest round in school history. He is one of four current Trojans who have recorded a 69.

At his first collegiate tournament last month in Findlay, Ohio, Turner took third overall with a 1-under par at the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Fall Invitational.

Staff Reports

Speedy, FCS race past MJCA 55-14

Stacey Cherry • Mt. Juliet News
Mt. Juliet Christian’s Gavin Forsha tackles Friendship Christian running back Justin Seagraves.

Mt. Juliet Christian’s Darius Hylick and Friendship Christian’s Jajuan (Speedy) Foutch brought in eye-popping rushing numbers into Friday’s game and both added to those.

But Foutch put on some highlight-reel runs to leave the Saints in the dust as the undefeated Commanders cruised to a 55-14 win at Pirtle Field.

Foutch ran for 245 yards and four touchdowns on just 10 carries, including one in which he juked past a defender in the backfield on his way to a 61-yard scoring sweep to cap his night, as the Commanders climbed to 7-0 for the season going into their bye week.

“Speedy was able to do a lot of things,” Commander coach John McNeal said. “Speedy is going to have that opportunity in a lot of cases. He’s so quick and fast. He made plays some other guys wouldn’t be able to make.”

“Speedy’s hard for anybody to catch, (and) everybody knows it,” Mt. Juliet Christian coach Dan Davis said.

In addition, his backfield partner, Justin Seagraves, summersaulted his way into the end zone from 2 yards out on a wildcat play for a 28-7 halftime lead. On another wildcat, he lobbed a 7-yard touchdown to Jacob Bostian. Backup fullback Ernie Gallatin rumbled for a 3-yard score to cap Friendship’s three-touchdown third quarter and backup quarterback Colt Mahoney crossed over on an 8-yard run in the fourth.

“We didn’t play as well as we would have liked to,” Davis said. “It was competitive in the first half. We made a couple of mistakes in the second and things piled up. We didn’t play as well as we would have liked, but we can learn from it. Iron sharpens iron. We’ll take it and build on it for two weeks for now.”

Hylick, who had already broken the 1,000-yard barrier before the game, took 19 cracks at Friendship’s defense and finished with 173 yards and both Saints scores. The first came on a 94-yard run following a Friendship fumble in the red zone. He capped the scoring with a 4-yarder in the fourth quarter with a running clock.

“A couple of times we shot ourselves taking penalties and just didn’t convert the little things,” Davis said.

“I was proud of our guys,” Commander coach John McNeal said. “They’re a good team. You’re going to give up some things. It’s just that one run that we did. Offensively, we had opportunities to be more than 28 (at halftime) but we gave up some fumbles and some miscues that I wasn’t happy with. But we answered the bell coming out in the second half and taking care of business.

“Mt. Juliet Christian has gotten better each year. Coach Davis has done a great job. We knew it would be a battle.”

Other than Hylick, Friendship’s defense threw the Saints’ ground game for minus-yardage as MJCA fell to 5-2 going into its bye week. Quarterback Alex Pitman completed 8 of 21 passes for 72 yards with two interceptions (by Bostian and Taylor Carman).

Mt. Juliet Christian lost a fumbles to Friendship’s two. Saints linebacker Andrew Kittrell recovered the Commanders’ miscue just before Hylick’s 94-yard home run. Dawson Perry recovered the other FCS fumble while defensive back Cade Holcombe grabbed the MJCA loose ball on a kickoff return.

Friendship will return from the bye to play host to King’s Academy at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at Pirtle Field as the Commanders continue their drive for a possible District II-A East Region championship.

“There’s three games after the bye,” McNeal said. “We’re ready for a good rest and let them get re-energized and finish the season with three games at the end and hopefully things will go well in the playoffs.”

Mt. Juliet Christian will also take next week off before welcoming Ezell-Harding to Suey Field at 7 p.m. Oct. 13.

“We have a long way to go this season,” Davis said. “We have a lot of things we can accomplish. This was a good night. Sometimes you have to take a loss to grow and take the next step and go above where you’ve been.”

By Andy Reed

Wilson Central upended by Hendersonville

Kaitlyn Hunterford • Mt. Juliet News
With a posse of Hendersonville Commandos chasing him, Wilson Central quarterback Aaron Hubbell throws on the run.

GLADEVILLE—Wilson Central scored on its opening possession, but Hendersonville, on the strength of two running backs with more than 100 yards each, defeated the Wildcats 42-28.

“Those guys do a great job on offense,” said Wilson Central head coach Brad Dedman.  “We just did not have an answer for their running game tonight.”

The Wildcats marched 80 yards in nine plays as Stratton Farmer scored on a 9-yard run to put the Wildcats up 7-0. Wilson Central then got the game’s first breaks, as Hendersonville running back Anthony Hughes fumbled a lateral pass, and the Wildcats recovered in Commando territory.  The Wildcats could only gain 7 yards and were forced to punt.

The Commandos then tied the score at 7, as quarterback Bret Coker hit Gabe Dalton on a 27-yard touchdown pass to cap a seven-play 63-yard drive. After forcing another Wildcat punt, Hughes ran 56 yards to give the Commandos a 14-7 lead to begin the second quarter.

After the teams traded punts, the Wildcats drove 50 yards in five plays, as Farmer scored his second touchdown of the night, this time from 1 yard out. That tied the score at 14. Then just before halftime, Hendersonville went on a 14-play, 63-yard, that was aided by two personal foul penalties and a pass interference penalty at the goal line. With seven seconds left in the half, Coker found tight end Austin Halas in the end zone to give the Commandos a 21-14 halftime lead.

Commandos got the ball to start the second half, but were stopped short on fourth-and-one. After forcing a Wilson Central, the teams traded turnovers. Hughes had his second fumble of the night, while Hubbell was intercepted on the very next play.

“Turnovers have been our Achilles Heel this year,” said Dedman.

After the interception, Hendersonville drove 52 yards in nine plays, as Coker scored on a quarterback keeper from 4 yards out to make the score 28-14. The Wildcats came back and scored immediately. Farmer broke off a 48-yard gain to put the Wildcats in the red zone. Three plays later, Farmer would scored his third touchdown, this one from 5 yards, to make the score 28-21.

After a long kickoff return, Hendersonville drove 46 yards as fullback Helton Porter scored from 11 yards to increase the lead to 35-21. Then after another Wildcat turnover, Commandos marched 40 yards in seven plays as Logan Spurrier scored from 4 yards to increase Hendersonville’s lead to 42-21.

The Wildcats put together one final drive as they went 80 yards in 11 plays with Hubbell finding Garrett Todd for a 7-yard touchdown to close out the scoring.

By Phillip Anthony 


Still unbeaten, atop Region 4-6A

Mt. Juliet gives up first points, but knocks off Rossview

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
Mt. Juliet’s defense gave up its first points of the season, but don’t tell this Rossview ball-carrier during this tackle by Brandon
Mang (5) and company.

For the Mt. Juliet Golden Bears, the streak of holding their opponents scoreless is over. The winning streak, however, is not.

The Golden Bears knocked off the Rossview Hawks, 31-17, Friday night, led by Aidan Raines’ 180 rushing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Raines began the game with a bang, taking his first carry 80 yards for a touchdown.

“Unbelievable performance from an unbelievable player,” said head coach Trey Perry of Raines. “I’m looking forward to the moment when colleges wake up and realize what kind of football player we have on our hands.”

Coming into Friday’s game, the Golden Bears hadn’t allowed a point this season. On Rossview’s first drive, the tension on the Bears’ sideline was palpable as the Hawks moved into field-goal range. A third-down stop led to a 38-yard field goal try from Zaden Webber, who sent the ball through the uprights. The streak was over.

But those were the only three points the Hawks scored in the first half, and Perry said he was proud of the way his team came out ready to play.

“I think we played a very good Rossview team tonight,” Perry said after the Golden Bears took sole possession of Region 6-4A by beating the Hawks, who had been tied atop the standings. “As I told our team, we had some great individual performances tonight, but individuals don’t win you regional championships or get you where you need to be.”

Despite the 7-0 start, Perry said there’s still something he’d like to see ironed out before his team takes on a very capable McGavock team at 7 p.m. Thursday.

“We just have to clean up our mistakes,” said Perry. “Not just penalties, but our scheme and responding to adversity and things like that. I mean they’re teenagers. You get that to some degree with the scoreless streak and stuff like that. But we’re also senior-led, and that shouldn’t happen on this football team.”

By Matt Gray 


School board approves $3 raise for bus drivers

The Wilson County school board approved a $3 hourly pay raise for district bus drivers Thursday in hopes of attracting more drivers in the future.

Wilson County Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall said the increase totals $708,801 and would represent an average of 17.6 percent average pay increase for drivers. Hall said the starting pay for bus drivers would increase to $17 starting with the upcoming school year.

Hall said the money would come from within the district’s budget. He said the district is able to fund the raises at this point due to unfilled budgeted teaching positions and difference in pay of senior educators who left the district compared to new educators.

“It usually takes four to five weeks for those numbers to smooth out. We were able to find some money. This is what I think we can handle,” Hall said.

School board chairman Larry Tomlinson highlighted the funds would be reoccurring money and the pay increase would not be considered an absolute fix to district transportation issues.

The increase comes after the district held a special meeting earlier this month to discuss ongoing transportation issues in the district.

“We have to make it an attractive position. I was an educator for 45 years. Bottom line is you pay for what you get,” board member Larry Joe Inman said during the meeting.

Jerry Partlow, Wilson County Schools transportation director, said the district has 439 route assignments each day, which include regular morning and afternoon routes, special needs morning and afternoon routes and midday routes.

He said he would like about 30 additional drivers to cover routes that carry about 10,000 of the district’s 18,000 students.

“There’s never enough school bus drivers and that’s just the long and short of it. All of the dilemmas that our parents are facing, all the dilemmas that I face and my staff face are because of the lack of school bus drivers. They are the backbone of my end of the business and for you all, too,” Partlow said. “I wish there was one silver bullet that I could say, ‘You shoot this and all your problems go away.’ That’s not going to happen. There are a lot of things we need to do.”

Bus driver pay and benefits and discipline issues have emerged as the primary issues with bus driver attraction and retention during several meetings.

District leaders said they would continue to look for feasible solutions to alleviate transportation issues.

By Xavier Smith

County to pick new school board member

Larry Joe Inman

Larry Joe Inman announces resignation from board Thursday night

The Wilson County Commission will choose the next Zone 7 school board member after Larry Joe Inman resigned his position Thursday night.

The Wilson County Commission is tasked with picking a replacement in case of a vacancy, according to state law. The commission will next meet Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. in commission chambers at the Wilson County Courthouse.

“This will be my last Wilson County school board meeting. I’m resigning my position,” Inman said. “We’re relocating out of state, and I just want to thank the constituents in Zone 7 for having enough confidence in me – as an individual and an educator – to allow me to be in the position I am on this board and be able to help so many kids,” he said.

Inman won his school board race last year after he defeated Chad Karl and Gwynne Queener for the newly created Zone 7 seat. Inman collected 717 votes, compared to Karl’s 693 votes and Queener’s 426 votes.

Inman resigned as the head women’s basketball coach at Tennessee State University in March, citing personal reasons. Inman spent five seasons at the helm of the women’s basketball program after coaching Lebanon High School the previous two years.

Inman also coached at Mt. Juliet High School, where he led the Bearettes to their first state championship in 1977.

Inman began his collegiate coaching career at Middle Tennessee State University in 1978 before spending 20 years at Eastern Kentucky.

“Thank you for your willingness to serve and all you’ve done for Wilson County over the years – basketball coach at Lebanon High School and Mt. Juliet High School and all the years you spent in the classroom and the young people you’ve touched,” said board chairman Larry Tomlinson.

By Xavier Smith

Wave rolls past ‘Cats

Kaitlyn Hungerford • Mt. Juliet News
Wilson Central receiver Garrett Todd adjusts his facemask as he is grabbed by a Gallatin defender.

GLADEVILLE – Gallatin used two second-half turnovers to turn a 7-3 halftime score into 35-17 win over Wilson Central on Friday night.

Ladarius Stewart led all rushers with 105 yards on 18 carriers, including two touchdowns, both in the second half.

“That’s been the story of our season,” said Wilson Central head coach Brad Dedman. “We haven’t been able to hold onto the ball.”

Gallatin got off to a strong start. After forcing a three-and-out, the Green Wave drove 36 yards in seven plays, but kicker Austin Wright missed a 55-yard field goal attempt. On the next dive the Green Wave drove into field-goal range, and Wright made a 37-yarder, but a Gallatin penalty nullified the score. Wright would go on to miss the 42-yard attempt after the penalty.

The Green Wave got on the board on the next series. After picking up a couple of first downs, Wilson Central drove into Gallatin territory, but quarterback Aaron Hubbell and running back Stratton Farmer fumbled the exchange and Stevante Halcomb picked up the loose ball and rambled 47 yards for a Green Wave touchdown to lead 7-0.

Wilson Central then answered, driving 77 yards in 11 plays, but had to settle for a Will Lafollette 25-yard filed goal, making the score 7-3 at halftime.

Gallatin got the ball to start the second half, but on its third play of the half, quarterback Andre Sloan was intercepted by Bret Robinson. However, the Wildcats fumbled the ball right back to the Green Wave as Hubbell hit receiver Dalton King. But Dyze Vaughn stripped the ball. Halcomb picked it up and returned it 61 yards to the Wildcat 9-yard line. Stewart would score his first touchdown on the next play to increase the lead to 14-3.

After holding the Wildcats to a three and out, the Green Wave were facing a fourth down at the Wilson Central 40-yard line. Jalen Porter ran around right end untouched for a touchdown run of 40 yards to increase the lead to 21-3. On the Wildcats next drive Vaughn intercepted Hubbell and ran 38 yards for another touchdown to make the score 28-3.

After forcing another three and out. Gallatin drove 72 yards in six plays. Stewart scored his second touchdown, this one from 38 yards, making the score 35-3. Backup quarterback Dylan Carpenter came in for Wilson Central and tossed two fourth-quarter touchdowns to Devonte McBroom to make he final score 35-17.“I am proud of the way ours played for 48 minutes,” said Dedman.

Wilson Central returns to Region 4-6A action against visiting Hendersonville at 7 p.m. Friday.

Saints roar from behind for 61-36 win

Angie Mayes • Mt. Juliet News
Mt. Juliet Christian quarterback Alex Pitman throws a pass.

MT. JULIET — Being down 16 points after just five minutes of play was not the ideal way to start the game for the Mt. Juliet Christian Saints.

But an explosive offense, led by Darius Hylick’s six touchdowns, was able to get the Saints a 61-36 victory over the Middle Tennessee Christian Cougars at Suey Field on Friday night.

The Saints’ head coach, Don Davis, said it was nice to see his team overcome some early “adversity,” especially after suffering their first loss of the season last week at the hands of King’s Academy.

“We got down 16 and just had to grind back out and dig it out and go get it,” said Davis. “My guys did that and I’m proud of them.”

Davis’ team was led by junior running back Darius Hylick, whose stat line looks straight out of a video game, posting 243 rushing yards, 88 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. When asked about Hylick’s night, Davis credited the team for his running back’s success.

“That’s a team thing,” said Davis. “Darius [Hylick] is the guy with the ball, but he doesn’t get the ball without everyone doing their job. Our offense came together, defense finally got back on track, special teams did a decent job. It’s just a team thing around here.”

A rough start to the night for the defense looked like it was going to get worse as the Cougars’ offense was driving again, looking to put more unanswered points on the board in the second quarter. The Saints’ defense held their ground though, stopping the Cougars on a 4th- and-goal situation. The momentum of the game shifted after that stand, and the Saints were able to outscore their opponent 61-20 the rest of the way.

“Our defense normally does a pretty commendable job,” said Davis. “We had our hiccup last week but they take pride in not letting people score, especially in situations like that. They stepped up and did it, and that helped the cause.”

This win brought the Saints’ record to 5-1 as they get ready for Friendship Christian this Friday at 7:30 at FCS’ Pirtle Field.

By Matt Gray

Mt. Juliet News correspondent

Bears’ shutout streak improves to 6-0

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
Mt. Juliet defensive end Reggie Grimes chases Northwest’s quarterback late in the third quarter.

Continuing its shutout streak, Mt. Juliet defeated Clarksville Northwest 43-0, claiming its sixth win of the season without allowing a point.

In addition to their defensive record, the Golden Bears rushed for six touchdowns and converted one two-point conversion. But the storyline for Mt. Juliet was its defense, which has not allowed a point on the season. The Bears have outscored their last six opponents 243-0.

Quarterback Cody Glass went 4-for-4 passing for 94 yards in an offensive game plan mainly concentrated on the ground attack. Aidan Raines rushed 15 times for 111 yards with three touchdowns and caught a 50-yard reception. Marcello Walton and Reggie Grimes each added a touchdown, Grimes with 35 yards rushing. Glass also rushed to score. Robbie Brewington and Tyler Johnson, Mt. Juliet’s kickers, went 5-for-5 on extra points. Overall, the Bears rushed for 277 yards.

Defensively, the Golden Bears sacked Clarksville Northwest’s quarterback four times, intercepted one pass and had five tackles for loss. Braden Costley led the Bears’ defense with four tackles, two and a half tackles for loss and one and a half sacks. In addition, Keaton Mang had three tackles and an interception. Mt. Juliet’s defense allowed only a handful of yards for Clarksville Northwest.

Early in the first half, Clarksville Northwest drove toward the end zone for a possible score. The Mt. Juliet defense forced a field goal try, which sailed wide and kept the Bears’ shutout streak intact.

Mt. Juliet next plays host to Rossview on Friday night.

By Emma Sherk

Mt. Juliet News correspondent


County schools see growth with state test scores

Wilson County Schools saw improvement on its Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System results after the scores took a dip last year.

The Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System measures student growth from year to year. In calculating a TVAAS score, a student’s performance is compared relative to the performance of his or her peers who have performed similarly on past assessments.

Wilson County Schools earned an overall composite score of 3. The district earned a level 5, the highest level possible, in system-wide numeracy and numeracy and literacy, while it scored a level 2 in science and level 1 in social studies and literacy.

A level 3 represents “average” growth and is considered “evidence that students met the growth standard.”

Mt. Juliet High School, Mt. Juliet Middle School, Carroll-Oakland School and Lakeview, Mt. Juliet, Stoner Creek and W.A. Wright elementary schools achieved a level 5 composite score. Watertown High School and Rutland Elementary School achieved a level 4 composite score.

The district’s composite score dipped to level 1 last year, which followed level 5 growth in 2015.

The Lebanon Special School District earned an overall composite score of 5. The district also earned a level 5 in system-wide numeracy, numeracy and literacy and science composite score, while it earned a level 4 in system-wide literacy.

Four of the district’s schools achieved level 5 growth – Byars Dowdy, Coles Ferry and Sam Houston elementary schools, as well as Walter J. Baird Middle School.

“For the 2016-2017 school year, TVAAS results remained stable and consistent through the transition to TN Ready. Additionally, 55 school districts, more than a third of Tennessee’s districts, earned overall TVAAS composites of level 5,” said Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen. “Notably, this includes districts with a wide range of academic achievement and student demographics. And, in 2016-2017, fewer districts earned level 1 and level 2 scores showing that more districts have students who are growing at or above the expected amount. These results point to the ability for all students to grow.”

By Xavier Smith

King’s hands MJCA first loss

Angie Mayes • Mt. Juliet News
Mt. Juliet Christian running back Darius Hylick is tackled by King’s Academy.

MT. JULIET – Cody Wylins scored three second-half touchdowns as King’s Academy rallied from a yard 14-7 halftime deficit to beat Mt. Juliet Christian 35-21 Friday night at Suey Field.

Wylins ran for 328 yards on 32 carries. Darius Hylick, the Saints’ star running back, was held in check by King’s Academy as he totaled only 34 yards on 14 carries.

“When you don’t do little things right,” said Saints head coach Dan Davis, “ they will come back to bite you.”

King’s scored on it’s first drive after holding the Saints to a three-and-out. The Lions went 69 yards in seven plays, capped off with a 33-yard touchdown run by Wylins. The extra point made the score 7-0. After the teams traded punts King’s looked to blow the game open. Wylins ran 51 yards to the Saints 7-yard line, but two plays later he fumbled and the Saints recovered at their own 5.

After an exchange of punts, the Saints marched 77 yards in eight plays, mostly through the air as quarterback Alex Pitman connected on four passes, capped off with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Caylor Bates. The extra point tied the game at 7. On the ensuing kickoff King’s muffed the squib kick and the Saints recovered.

After getting to King’s’ 13-yard yard line Pitman and Hylick fumbled the exchange ending the threat.

After intercepting King’s, the Saints used a trick play. Pitman threw a later to Bates, who then threw downfield to an open Trent Graves in the end zone to give the Saints at 14-7 halftime lead.

In the second half Wylins took over. On the first drive he ran on all nine plays for 64 yards but was stopped shy of the end zone on fourth and 1. After forcing a Saints punt, he ran 30 yards on the second play of the drive to tie the game at 14. After another exchange of punts, Wylins scored from 2 yards out after his 57-yard run for a 21-14 Lion lead. Pitman was then intercepted, and on the next play Wylins scored his fourth touchdown of the night, extending the lead to 28-14.

The Saints cut the deficit to 28-21 when Pitman threw short to Logan Collier, who made a defender miss and ran down the sideline to score. On the next drive for King’s, facing a third down and 4, quarterback Brandon Burgess scrambled and found Wylins, who ran to the 8-yard line. Burgess scored on a keeper two plays later to make the final 35-21.

The loss dropped the Saints to 4-1 over and 1-1 in the East II-A Region play.

“Our goal is making the playoffs,” said Davis, “we will come back Monday and correct things and get ready for Friday.”

Mt. Juliet Christian will remain in region play when the Saints play host to Middle Tennessee Christian at 7 p.m. at Suey Field.

Big Bear Machine rolls to fifth shutout

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
The line judge and Mt. Juiiet wide receiver John Lodwick (38) and halfback Kelvis Duffie (40) signal touchdown by holder Aidan Raines (6) off a fake field goal during the second quarter. Wilson Central cornerback Kalib Graves lays on the ground.

MT. JULIET — On the night the Cleveland Indians’ American League-record 22-game winning streak was stopped, Mt. Juliet’s shutout streak continued as the Golden Bears hung a 35-0 blanking on visiting Wilson Central on Friday night.

Behind three total touchdowns by Aidan Raines, including two off fake field goals, the Golden Bears built a 28-0 halftime lead and extended their 2017 scoring margin to 200-0 at the halfway point of the regular season.

“All glory to God,” Mt. Juliet coach Trey Perry said. “It’s a pretty amazing thing. But it’s not a coach or a player or a staff, it is collective from the administration to the program. I feel like this is something that started in December, or maybe several years ago with a lot of young guys playing that’s had a lot of experience. You can do a lot of things when you line up correctly, and they do a good job lining up.”

Playing on a warm evening, the Golden Bears used their speed to cut off Wilson Central’s running game, throwing the Wildcats to minus-yards on the ground and 99 total. They also received a fumble recovery from Marcello Walton off a muffed punt in the first quarter and interceptions from Blake Weaver and Cage Ellis in the fourth quarter.

“I feel like collectively our team speed has improved from the last couple of years,” Perry said. I credit Coach (Curtis) Grah and the job he does in the strength and conditioning program and the guys for showing up every day and doing it.”

“They got speed all over the field, offensively and defensively, especially on the defensive side,” Wildcats coach Brad Dedman said after Central slipped to 1-4 for the season. “They were able to control up front and we were struggling all night up front.

“When you have trouble blocking people up front, it’s hard to gain any yards at all.”

Cody Glass, whose first pass was picked off by Kalib Graves, came back with an 18-yard scoring strike to Colby Martin.

Mt. Juliet then lined up for a 26-yard field goal. But Raines, the holder, passed to Colton Reeder for a 14-0 lead. Raines scored on a more conventional 38-yard run to cap the first quarter.

Another fake field goal ended in a 4-yard Raines scoring run for a 28-0 halftime lead.

“I feel like this series always has a lot of special teams fakes,” Perry said. “Obviously, that’s a lot of respect for each other from that standpoint.”

But while many high school blowouts result in low-scoring second halves with running clocks. Mt. Juliet couldn’t get on the board again until Marcello Walton raced in from 40 yards out with 4:22 to play. Another factor was Graves, who picked off two passes deep in Wildcat territory, giving him three interceptions in the last two games.

“No matter what’s happened all year long, our defense has battled in the second halves,” Dedman said. “It’s all three phases. We don’t quit. We didn’t put points on the board, but our kids didn’t quit.

“Kalib Graves is a pretty good corner. He can cover some ground and he does a good job when the ball is in the air.

“Wilson Central played hard tonight,” Perry said. “At halftime, they had an opportunity, maybe, to not finish the second half the way they would want to. But the played hard and they deserved credit for that.

“We did rotate some people. But we promised this football team 48 full minutes tonight.”

The teams will step out of Region 4-6A next Friday. Wilson Central will entertain Gallatin while Northwest visits Mt. Juliet at 7 p.m.

“I’m excited about next week and evaluating this film and evaluating 48 full minutes and seeing how we are conditioning-wise on a hotter night and making adjustments and moving on,” Perry said.

By Andy Reed

Friendship Christian to celebrate homecoming

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
Friendship Christian School’s homecoming court includes (from left) Kayla Donnell, Hailey Pittman, queen Anna Belle Gallaher, Pryce Jordan Daniels and Mallory Dean.

Friendship Christian School will celebrate homecoming Friday.

The homecoming court will be presented at 7 p.m., followed by the game against Ezell-Harding Christian School at 7:30 p.m.

The homecoming parade will take place Friday morning and start at 9 at the First Baptist Church parking lot on East Main Street in Lebanon. The parade will travel west through the town square and continue on West Main Street about two miles to Hartmann Drive and continue to Coles Ferry Pike, where the parade will end at the Friendship campus.

The 2017 homecoming queen is Anna Belle Gallaher, daughter of Stacie and John Gallaher, of Lebanon. The senior attendant is Hailey Pittman, daughter of Latrice and David Pittman, of Lebanon. The junior attendant is Pryce Jordan Daniels, daughter of Karis Daniels and John Crowder, of Lebanon. The sophomore attendant is Mallory Kathryn Dean, daughter Jennifer Mallory Dean and Charles Dean, of Lebanon. The freshman attendant is Kayla Donnell, daughter of Den Donnell and Tonya Rischbeck, of Lebanon.

Staff Reports

Schools discusses bus driver options

The Wilson County school board began serious discussions on possible solutions to transportation issues that plague the district during a special called board meeting Monday.

Jerry Partlow, Wilson County Schools transportation director, said the district has 439 route assignments each day, which include regular morning and afternoon routes, special needs morning and afternoon routes and midday routes.

He said he would like about 30 additional drivers to cover routes that carry about 10,000 of the district’s 18,000 students.

“There’s never enough school bus drivers and that’s just the long and short of it. All of the dilemmas that our parents are facing, all the dilemmas that I face and my staff face are because of the lack of school bus drivers. They are the backbone of my end of the business and for you all, too,” Partlow said. “I wish there was one silver bullet that I could say, ‘You shoot this and all your problems go away.’ That’s not going to happen. There are a lot of things we need to do.”

Bus driver pay and benefits and discipline issues emerged as the primary issues with bus driver attraction and retention during the meeting.

“We have to make it an attractive position. I was an educator for 45 years. Bottom line is you pay for what you get,” said board member Larry Joe Inman, who said the district should look to increase bus driver salaries and benefits.

Board members Johnie Payton and Wayne McNeese discussed discipline on school buses.

“If your kid cannot sit on that bus and pay attention and listen just like they do in that classroom, then you don’t need to be riding that bus,” Payton said.

“We’ve got to support these drivers when they have an issue and make sure that these kids are going to behave or they’re going to walk,” said McNeese, who was adamant that district-level administrators received information about discipline issues on buses.

The board also discussed other issues that factor into transportation issues, including laws and regulations, other employment opportunities and parental behavior toward bus drivers.

“Something that’s been lost in this conversation is the stress and the concern that our bus drivers are carrying every day when they’re driving that bus with those children sitting behind them,” Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright said. “We’ve got to make sure we support the bus drivers we have right now. We have to figure out what we can do.”

The board will brainstorm potential solutions and present them during the Sept. 28 regular board meeting.


By Xavier Smith

Schools bus driver battle continues

District scrambles to find drivers in wake of shortage at several schools

Wilson County Schools continue to battle with a bus driver shortage as some schools experienced cancelled routes last week.

Jennifer Johnson, Wilson County Schools spokesperson, said Southside, Carroll-Oakland and West elementary schools, as well as West Wilson Middle School and Lebanon High School, each had one route cancelled last Thursday due to the shortage.

Jerry Partlow, Wilson County Schools transportation director, said the district has 439 route assignments each day, which include regular morning and afternoon routes, special needs morning and afternoon routes and midday routes.

“For example, a typical Mt. Juliet W.A. Wright [Elementary School] bus will have a morning route, afternoon route, and then the same bus will do a Mt. Juliet High School route in the morning and afternoon. We consider this four-route assignments, so it would be four of the 439,” Partlow said. “A Lebanon High School bus will have an a.m. and a p.m. route. We consider that two-route assignments.”

Johnson said other factors played into the shortage, as well.

“We had one driver quit Friday, and we had to let one go, because we discovered they had an accident while driving a bus in another county. We also have three other drivers on medical leave,” said Johnson, who said the district needs about 12 drivers.

Johnson said she received information Wednesday about ways the district looks to address the shortage, including offering morning and afternoon only shifts for new drivers.

“We think it’ll help attract drivers who work other jobs or people who want to earn a little extra money. We think it’ll also help teachers who want to earn a little more, as well,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright received information from another school district in the country about one way they’re addressing driver shortages – law enforcement.

“They partner with their local law enforcement departments to have some of them drive school buses. It’s a great way for them to earn extra money, and the district said discipline problems on the buses diminished,” Johnson said.

The Wilson County school board received input from district bus drivers earlier this year about causes and solutions for the shortage. Issues raised included a lack of respect from students and parents, inconsistency in handling reports of incidents, the split-shift format that drivers adhere to and driver pay.

Wilson County Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall highlighted some changes the district made earlier this year to entice drivers, such as paid training at $8.50 per hour. However, he said on some occasions, drivers work and quit after the first day after realizing the scope of the work and the atmosphere on buses.

He also said background checks, drug screens and other Tennessee Department of Transportation requirements deter potential drivers. Wright said other jobs such as commercial driving that require the same qualifications have attracted drivers.

The school board also approved a $5 per hour increase in June for field trip and athletic event bus drivers to make their payment closer to their regular pay, which averages $16 per hour.

Hall said the change stemmed from conversations with bus drivers.

The Wilson County Budget Committee took no action on the district’s needs assessment list this year during the budget process. The list included a recommended $2 raise for bus drivers, about $708,000, which included benefits.

The bus driver raise, along with teacher raises, were placed on the needs assessment list rather than the district’s $141-million budget.

Hall said most expenses in the budget were relative to new staff, the opening of Springdale Elementary School in Mt. Juliet, teacher pay, infrastructure and more.

By Xavier Smith

Smyrna turns seven takeaways into runaway win over Wilson Central

Kaitlyn Hungerford • Mt. Juliet News
Wilson Central’s Kwamez Kirby (17) makes a move to avoid a Smyrna defender.

Seven turnovers added up to a 43-10 Wilson Central loss to Smyrna on Friday night.

The Wildcats outgained the Bulldogs in total yardage 384-225. But Smyrna had a pick-six and a scoop-and-score to go along with a number of short-field opportunities.

Short scoring runs by Alex Bannister and Blake Watkins staked Smyrna to a 13-0 lead. Tevin Shipp then returned a fumble 67 yards for a 20-0 lead.

Aaron Hubbell hit 25 of 37 passes for 262 yards with an interception. He hit DeMarius McBroom for a 52-yard touchdown pass to bring Central within 20-7 four minutes before halftime.

Will Lafollete’s 24-yard field goal with 5:31 left in the third quarter brought the Wildcats to within 20-10.

But Smyrna used the last 2:09 of the period to put the game away with a 4-yard Jordan Carter touchdown run and a 27-yard score by Dyvonte McCormick with a second to go for a 32-10 margin.

Demarco Miller returned a Hubbell interception for Smyrna’s final touchdown. Jose Baeza’s 32-yard field goal wrapped up the scoring as the Bulldogs improved to 2-0.

Central slipped to 0-2 going into a trip to Rossview next Friday for the new Region 4-6A opener. Kickoff in Clarksville will be at 7 p.m.

Staff Reports

TSSAA considers MJCA soccer match suspended

The Aug. 22 controversial soccer match between Mt. Juliet Christian and host Smith County was considered suspended by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association.

In a letter sent to the schools last Thursday by TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress, Mt. Juliet Christian will not forfeit the match after coach Justin Berry removed his team from the field during the first half of the scoreless match at Smith County Soccer Complex in South Carthage. Berry removed the Lady Saints from the field and left the complex after he was unable to get the game stopped when the team’s lightning meter showed lightning to be 1.6 miles away.

Childress said based on statements from both schools and the game officials, “we cannot definitively conclude that the TSSAA lightning policy was knowingly violated by Smith County officials or the TSSAA referees.”

But Childress did say things could have been handled differently by game officials and administrators, saying the officials, and not the game administrator, were responsible to make weather-related decisions once the game begins, according to National Federation of High School soccer rules, which are followed by TSSAA. Once MJCA’s trainer told the Smith County administrator about the lightning, “he should not have dismissed her comments”, noting officials could have been alerted at the next logical stoppage of play.

Childress said one official said he heard and saw no thunder or lightning while the other thought “he may have heard something”, but attributed the sound to nearby Interstate 40.

The executive director, while acknowledging that game officials may not always see or hear conditions that coaches, trainers or fans observe, the parties should have come together to share what they knew, saw or heard and make a decision accordingly, especially when one official thought he heard something.

“Perhaps if this had happened, the game officials would have concluded that the rumble was not the interstate when the athletic trainer shared the information regarding the lightning detector.”

According to the letter, the schools may agree to resume the game from the point of suspension, replay the match from the beginning or not play it at all, which would be considered a no-contest.

“We must all realize the safety of our student athletes has to be our top priority,” Childress wrote. “It is our hope that in the future all adults involved in the administration of the event would do a better job communicating when concerns about the safety of the athletes are shared.”

By Andy Reed

Bears blank Bobcats

Mt. Juliet’s defense hasn’t surrendered a score to start the 2017 season after the Bear shut out Overton, 38-0, on Friday.

Robbie Brewington put Mt. Juliet on the board with a 34-yard field goal after a 54-yard touchdown run was called back for holding. Another holding penalty cost the Bears another score as the led Overton, 3-0, at the end of the first.

Aiden Raines, who rushed for 136 yards, found the end zone first in the second quarter on a 20-yard run, and followed with a 5-yard scoring run two minutes later.

Mt. Juliet took a 17-0 lead into intermission.

Reggie Grimes continued Mt. Juliet’s scoring assault with a 15-yard score with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Cody Glass, who threw for 126 yards, gave Overton a 31-point cushion to open the fourth quarter on a 27-yard toss to Coby Martin.

Grimes, who rushed for 82 yards, found the end zone for his second touchdown to close out the night for Mt. Juliet with just under six minutes remaining in the game.

Jesyah White and Colton Reeder anchored the Bears defense. White had eight tackles, two fumble recoveries and three tackles for loss. Reeder had six tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and an interception.

Keaton Mang also chipped in an interception for the Bears defense.

Mt. Juliet (2-0) will travel to Clifton Tribble Field-Danny Watkins Stadium to face Lebanon (0-2) on Friday.

Xavier Smith