Mt. Juliet defense stymies Blue Devils

Staff Reports

MT. JULIET — Mt. Juliet’s defense put the clamps on Lebanon for the first three quarters of a 56-42 win in the District 9-AAA opener for both teams Friday night.

The Golden Bears led 7-2 following the first quarter, 23-10 at halftime and 38-15 going into the fourth. The Blue Devils found some offense in the fourth quarter to cut the margin to 10 before falling to 5-2 for the season.

“We didn’t give up,” Lebanon coach Jim McDowell said. “But you can’t dig that kind of a hole against a team like Mt. Juliet.

“Right now, they’re kind of the class of our league.”

“Both teams were really amped up at the start,” Mt. Juliet coach Troy Allen said of the slow offensive start. “We did a good job getting to their shooters until the fourth quarter.

“These early district games are tough when you play a team that tough. When you play like we did the first three quarters, it’s pretty encouraging.”

Point guard Will Pruitt paced the Bears with 18 points while backcourt mate Gavin Wilson sank a pair of three-pointers on his way to 15. Ryan McIntosh tossed in 10 while Gage Wells scored six, Bryan Aiken and J.C. Crawford three each and Taj Mason a free throw as Mt. Juliet improved to 6-1.

Jeremiah Hastings had 14 points to lead the Blue Devils, who were just 3-of-22 from the floor in the first half. Gaven Reasonover scored seven, Polo Phillips six; Malcolm Logue, Jackson Stafford and Ethan Njezic four each and Zion Logue three.

“It was not our best showing, that’s for sure,” McDowell said. “Hopefully, we’ll get better.

“Always they’re going to play physical, play sound defense. We held them to 23 points in the first half, which is good defense for us. We got to hit shots when they’re open. Mt. Juliet did that and we didn’t.”

Both teams returned to district action Tuesday night – Lebanon at Hendersonville and Mt. Juliet at home against Gallatin.

On Friday, Mt. Juilet will travel to Portland while Lebanon entertains Wilson Central.

Wildcats rally to break losing streak

GLADEVILLE — Wilson Central rallied in the third quarter Friday night to take the lead and the Wildcats went on to break a three-game losing streak with a 46-43 win over Hendersonville in the District 9-AAA opener.

Hendersonville was ahead 12-7 following the first quarter and 26-21 at halftime. But the Wildcats controlled the third period 15-6, taking the lead on a corner three-pointer with about 2:30 to play as they went on to lead 34-32 going into the fourth as they climbed to 4-3 for the season.

Daniel Jackson threw in 13 points and Tyler Hayes 10 to lead Central. Adler Kerr added eight while Caleb Lawrence and Azel Eddings each drained a pair of three-pointers for six and Seth Beck a fourth-quarter triple.

Zach Morris’s 16 points paced the Commandos, who fell to 3-5.

Wilson Central remained at home Tuesday night to play host to Hendersonville’s arch-rival, Beech, and will travel to Lebanon on Friday.


overpowers MJCA

MADISON — Goodpasture overpowered visiting Mt. Juliet Christian 94-33 Thursday night.

The Cougars led 32-2 following the first quarter and 67-12 at halftime as the Saints slipped to 6-3 for the season and 0-2 in District 4-IIA.

Gavin Forsha finished with 14 points for the Saints while Logan Collier and Jordan Willis each scored five, Dwayne Ewers four, Jack Crouch three and Darius Hylick two.

Mt. Juliet Christian played host to Merrol Hyde on Monday night and will travel to University School of Nashville on Friday.

Lady Bears survive Lebanon miss 51-49

Staff Reports

MT. JULIET — Mt. Juliet survived a missed Lebanon layup in the final second Friday night to escape with a 51-49 win in the District 9-AAA opener for both teams before a loud crowd at MJHS.

The Lady Bears led 13-11 following the first quarter before Lebanon took a 28-25 advantage into halftime. Mt. Juliet clung to a 42-41 edge going into the fourth as the winners won their sixth straight following two opening losses in the TSSAA Hall of Champions games.

“It was just a battle,” Lebanon coach Cory Barrett said after his Devilettes dropped to 4-3. “It was back and forth. I don’t know if a lead ever stretched beyond five or six points the whole night.”

Lebanon forced a turnover with a second to play under the Devilettes’ offensive basket. But LHS missed a wide-open layup.

“We’ve really had some knock-down, drag-out with them the last four or five times we’ve played them,” Mt. Juliet coach Chris Fryer said. “The fans are getting their money’s worth.

“Lebanon has a lot of good starters, good players. It’s never going to be easy. Anytime we play them, it’s going to be nip and tuck.”

Tondrianna Davis drained three 3-pointers to lead the Lady Bears with 16 points while center Emma Palmer put in 14, freshman forward Reghan Grimes 11 and point guard Nevaeh Majors 10.

“This early in the season, playing a big district game is tough when you’re trying to get better,” Fryer said. “Hopefully, as the season goes along, we’ll get better with our halfcourt offense. We’re still a work in progress.”

Allissa Mulaski led Lebanon with 13 points while Aaryn Grace Lester added 11 as each threw in three triples. Christaney Brookshire scored seven. Anne Marie Heidebreicht hit a pair of threes as she and Addie Porter scored six apiece while Kiri Steverson, Rebecca Brown and Avery Harris had two each.

Both teams will return to district action at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday – Lebanon at Hendersonville and Mt. Juliet at home against Gallatin.

Richetto’s 26 leads

Lady Wildcats past


GLADEVILLE — Sydnee Richetto racked up 26 points, sinking four three-pointers, to lead Wilson Central past visiting Hendersonville 58-30 in the District 9-AAA opener Friday night.

The Lady Wildcats led 13-5 following the first quarter, 27-12 at halftime and 49-20 through three periods as Central improved to 6-1.

In addition to her scoring, Richetto also had five steals. Nicole Brill tossed in 10 points while Gracen Robinson scored six. Jasmin Angel finished with five points and nine rebounds while Miyaunna Cason and Dottie McSpadden each spun in a three, Gracie Clark and Teoria Woods two apiece and Sydney Dalton a free throw.

No one scored in double figures for the Lady Commandos, who fell to 2-4

Central remained at home Tuesday night to face Hendersonville’s arch-rival, Beech, and will travel to Lebanon on Friday.

Davis drains six triples in Lady Bear rout

Staff Reports

MT. JULIET — Mt. Juliet breezed to a dominant 79-25 triumph over visiting Siegel on Friday night.

The Lady Bears led 27-4 following the first quarter and 47-7 at halftime as they improved to 3-2.

Tondrianna Davis dropped in six three-pointers in leading the Lady Bears with 27 points while Reghan Grimes racked up 22 and Emma Palmer 16. Nevaeh Majors scored seven while Ryleigh Osborne hit an early three and Taylor Pruitt and Gentry Houston each had two.

No one scored in double figures for Siegel.

After traveling to Nashville to take on Overton on Monday, Mt. Juliet will open District 9-AAA action at home at 6:30 p.m. Friday against Lebanon.

MJCA turns it on in fourth to overtake

Madison Acad.

MT. JULIET — Mt. Juliet Christian climbed from behind to defeat Madison Academy 40-35 Thursday night.

The Lady Knights led 11-5 following the first quarter. The teams played evenly through the second and third periods before Mt. Juliet Christian closed with a 19-9 fourth.

Amelia Lyons led the Lady Saints with 21 points while Megan Blackwell scored six, Bethany Lyons four, Destiny Moser three and Josie Bly, Abigail Eastin and Felicity Keen two apiece as Mt. Juliet Christian pulled even at 3-3.

Sara Adaela led the Lady Knights with 12 points.

Mt. Juliet Christian opened District 4-II-A action Tuesday at Friendship Christian’s Bay Family Sportsplex.

Golden Bears top Siegel 57-47

Staff Reports

MT. JULIET — Mt. Juliet seized control in the second quarter of a 57-47 triumph over Siegel on Friday night.

The teams were tied 11-11 following the first quarter before the Golden Bears dominated the second 24-11 to lead 35-20 at halftime. It was 41-33 going into the fourth as Mt. Juliet improved to 4-1.

Will Pruitt scored 16 points and Gavin Wilson 10 for Mt. Juliet. Gage Wills supplied nine while Ryan McIntosh sank two three-pointers on his way to eight. J.C. Crawford tallied seven while Taj Mason finished with four and Riggs Abner a three.

Matthew Snider scored 13 points and point guard Zion Swader 10 for Siegel.

Mt. Juliet will go to Nashville to take on Overton on Monday night.

Central succumbs to LaVergne

LAVERGNE — Wilson Central’s offense struggled in a 53-38 loss at LaVergne on Friday night.

The Wolverines led 16-5 following the first quarter, 26-15 at halftime and 43-28 through three periods.

Antuan Williams fired in five three-pointers to lead LaVergne with 17 points. Armon Lumas flicked in four triples and Deshaun Prince two as each tossed in 12 points.

Azel Eddings was the Wildcats’ top scorer with six points on a pair of triples. Seth Beck, Connor Miller and Caleb Lawrence each finished with five while Daniel Jackson, Jordan Beard and Tyler Hayes had four apiece and Adler Kerr a pair of free throws.

Central is off until next Friday when the Wildcats play host to Hendersonville in the District 9-AAA opener.

MJCA crushes Currey Ingram

BRENTWOOD — Mt. Juliet Christian found its offense in the third quarter of a 52-10 triumph at Currey Ingram on Friday night.

The Saints led 13-4 at halftime before a 28-2 third expanded the margin to 41-6 as they improved to 6-1.

Gavin Forsha fired in 15 points and Logan Collier 10 for Mt. Juliet Christian. Jordan Willis and Dwayne Ewers each scored seven, Darius Hylick four, Carter Branim and Luke Nave a three-pointer apiece, Jack Crouch two and Gavin Teas a free throw.

Mt. Juliet Christian will travel to Friendship Christian’s Bay Family Sportsplex on Tuesday night for the District 4-II-A opener.

Balanced Saints march past Madison Academy

MT. JULIET — Mt. Juliet Christian used a balanced attack to defeat Madison Academy 62-43 Thursday night.

Logan Collier fired in 15 points to pace the Saints while Dwayne Ewers and Montrell Walker each tossed in 10. Jordan Willis added eight, Darius Hylick seven, Gavin Forsha six and Carter Branim, Jack Crouch and Perrion Davis two apiece as Mt. Juliet Christian climbed to 5-1 for the season.

Beau Rodriguez racked up 20 points and Andr’e Crayton 10 for the Knights, who fell to 3-1.

Mt. Juliet Christian led 16-9 following the first quarter, 28-17 at halftime and 45-31 through three periods.

Shelbyville spoils Wildcats’ home opener

GLADEVILLE — Shelbyville got off to a fast start and spoiled Wilson Central’s home opener with a 56-40 win Tuesday night.

The Golden Eagles led 22-12 following the first quarter, 38-22 at halftime and 45-37 through three as Central slipped to 2-3.

Erman Garcia buried four first-quarter three-pointers and led Shelbyville with 17 points. Malachi Burns tossed in 12 and Airius Trice seven of his 10 in the fourth.

Tyler Hayes’ 10 points led Wilson Central, including eight in the third quarter. Caleb Lawrence threw in two first-quarter threes as he and Adler Kerr each added eight points while Azel Eddings scored six, Jordan Beard five, Daniel Jackson two free throws and Seth Beck one.

Mt. Juliet roars from behind for 58-52 win

MT. JULIET — Mt. Juliet seized control in the fourth quarter Tuesday night for a come-from-behind 58-52 win over Centennial.

The Cougars led 15-10 following the first quarter, 29-26 at halftime and 42-41 through three before the Golden Bears used a 17-10 fourth to improve to 3-1.

Gage Wells threw in three 3-pointers to lead Mt. Juliet with 18 points while Gavin Wilson and J.C. Crawford each hit two triples on their way to 12 apiece. Riggs Abner added eight points and Will Pruitt and Charles Clark four each.

Dusty Williams drained a pair of threes as he and Tre Carlton each collected 14 points for the Cougars.

MJ’s Perry named region coach of the year

Staff Reports

Mt. Juliet’s Trey Perry was named Region 4-6A Coach of the Year last week.

Perry, who just finished his sixth season, guided the Golden Bears to their second straight undefeated regular season and third consecutive region title as Mt. Juliet went 12-1.

Wide receiver Malik Bowen was voted Offensive Player of the Year. His Golden Bear teammate, Ronnie Kramer, was named Offensive Lineman of the Year.

As region champions, Mt. Juliet had the most representation on the all-region team, including Michael Ruttlen, Jayce Pardue, Bryan Aiken, Tristan Kilmon, Connor Ruzek, Colby Martin and Marcello Walton.

Representing Wilson Central are Garrett Todd, DeVonte McBroom and Dawson Ray.

Wilson boys succumb in overtime

Staff Reports

Page’s boys took over in overtime Saturday night to close out the John Greer Thanksgiving Classic with a 60-52 triumph over Wilson Central at Lebanon’s Campbell Brandon Gym/Hester Gibbs Court.

The Patriots outscored the Wildcats 13-5 in the extra four minutes with Nate Hollman getting six of his 18 in OT. Page went 8-for-8 from the line in the extra stanza.

Page trailed 35-33 going into the fourth before Blane Burrow buried seven points in the fourth and his other two, from the line, in overtime.

The Patriots led 12-8 following the first period and 22-18 at halftime before Central used a 17-11 third-quarter surge to take the lead.

Ben Cyphers scored 11 points for Page.

Tyler Hayes sank all six of his free throws to lead the Wildcats with 13 points while Daniel Jackson dropped in 5 of 6 on his way to 12. Caleb Lawrence threw in three 3-pointers en route to 11. Jordan Beard scored seven points while Adler Kerr, Caleb Berman and Azel Eddings each added three as Central slipped to 3-2.

Central played host to Shelbyville on Tuesday for the Wildcats’ home opener. They will travel to LaVergne on Friday night.

Fiery Franklin outscores Central

Franklin fired out to a fast lead and left Wilson Central playing catch-up the rest of the night in the Rebels’ 75-55 win in the John Greer Thanksgiving Classic at Lebanon’s Campbell Brandon Gym/Hester Gibbs Court on Friday night.

The Rebels rolled to a 24-14 first-quarter lead, 45-35 at halftime and 63-48 through three as the Wildcats suffered their first setback following three opening wins.

Reese Glover fired in five first-quarter three-pointers on his way to eight for the game and 31 points. AH Shari Haynesworth scored 17 and Mat Thurman 12.

Tyler Hayes had 18 points for Central. Azel Eddings found a spot in the corner to sink five first-half triples for all of his 15. Caleb Lawrence finished with four points while Daniel Jackson, Caleb Berman, Adler Kerr and Daniel Beard each threw in three and Seth Beck, Jordan Beard and Connor Miller two apiece.

Mt. Juliet CCC Bears win battle of rocky top

The Mt. Juliet CCC Bears won the Battle of Rocky Top with a shutout victory.

Players are Cayson Weist (4), Brady Coleman (7), Tommy Travers (12), Jacob Tubberville (16), Gage Bullock (20), Kamryn Morton (24), Elijah Booker (32), Bruno Prater (38), Langston Robinson (44), Bayler Cooksey (52), Phillip Chavez (55), Ayden Cole (58), Brayden Lazenby (61), Dalton Goode (62) Vinny  Henry (75), Kaden Goodloe (92) and Lincoln Nave (99).

Head coach Mike Weist is assisted by Brad Cole, Ray Robinson, Warren Cooksey, Kevin Tubberville, Marcel Goodloe and Jason Henry.

Lady ‘Cat offense dries up vs. Knox Webb

Staff Reports

Wilson Central’s offense was missing in action Saturday morning as Knoxville Webb defeated the Lady Wildcats 45-22 to begin Saturday’s action in the John Greer Thanksgiving Classic at Lebanon’s Campbell Brandon Gym/Hester Gibbs Court.

Casey Collier got Webb off to a good start with six of her game-high 21 points in the first quarter as the Lady Spartans took an 11-5 lead. It was 22-13 at halftime and 34-17 through three as Central slipped to 4-1.

Catherine Henderson had 10 of her 11 points in the second half, going 8-for-8 from the free-throw line after halftime and 9-of-10 for the morning for Webb.

Aubree Starnes led the Lady Wildcats with seven points while Sydnee Richetto finished with five, Nicole Brill a three-point play; Dottie McSpadden, Miyauana Cason and Sydney Dalton two each and Jasmin Angel a free throw.

Central played host to Shelbyville on Tuesday night in the Lady Wildcats’ home opener and will travel to LaVergne for a 6 p.m. game Friday.

Richetto makes her mark again with 30

One year after Wilson Central’s Sydnee Richetto introduced herself to high school basketball in the John Greer Thanksgiving Classic, the now-sophomore provided a reminder in the Lady Wildcats’ 55-52 win over Dickson County on Friday at Lebanon’s Campbell Brandon Gym/Hester Gibbs Court.

Richetto racked up 30 points, including five three-pointers. She sank 5 of 6 free throws during her 12-point fourth-quarter as the Lady Wildcats climbed to 4-0.

Central trailed 15-10 following the first quarter and 23-22 at halftime before surging in front 38-32 going into the fourth.

Sydney Dalton added eight points and six rebounds for Central while Nicole Brill scored seven points, Teoria Woods four, Aubree Starnes a three, Dottie McSpadden two and Jasmin Angel a free throw.

Ryann Roberts countered with four triples in leading the Lady Cougars with 20 points while K.K. Curtis collected 12.

Bears’ perfect run ends vs. Oakland

Staff Reports

MT. JULIET—Mt. Juliet went toe-to-toe with Oakland on Friday night, but the Patriots’ kicking game proved to be the difference in a 14-7 win Friday night in a Class 6A quarterfinal.

The Patriots set up their first touchdown thanks to a punt that pinned the Golden Bears deep in their own end, then blocked a Mt. Juliet punt to set up the go-ahead score early in the fourth quarter.

Mt. Juliet had two drives to try and tie the game, but both were ended by Oakland interceptions, the last coming by D.D. Anderson at the Oakland 15 with seven seconds left.

The Golden Bears’ season ended at 12-1, a game shy of the school’s first state semifinal appearance since 2012. Oakland (12-1) will host Maryville next week for a shot at their seventh berth in a state championship game.

“I can’t say enough about our senior class,” Mt. Juliet coach Trey Perry said. “We went 22-2 in our last 24 games, and those guys have led the way. This is a tough night. We didn’t come out here to play close. We came out here to win a state championship, and we gave it our best effort.”

Mt. Juliet appeared on the ropes in the first half, but bounced back with a 72-yard touchdown pass from Alvin Mixon to Malik Bowen to tie the game at 7 midway through the third quarter. The bomb came one play after Mt. Juliet converted a fourth-and-1 at its own 27.

The third quarter ended tied, and with the Golden Bears with a third-and-4 at their own 19. But after an incompletion, a punt was blocked by Oakland’s Justin Jefferson and the Patriots took over at Mt. Juliet’s 8.

Xavier Myers, who finished with 34 carries for 145 yards, ran for his second touchdown on the next play.

Mt. Juliet moved the ball well in the fourth quarter, but Oakland’s defense held on.

There were only 77 yards and four first downs combined in the first half. Unfortunately for Mt. Juliet, all the first downs and all but 8 of the yards belonged to Oakland.

Given that, it’s probably no surprise the most important play of the half was an Oakland punt. The Patriots’ Garrett Taylor — a Mr. Football finalist — hit one 71 yards that rolled dead at the Mt. Juliet 2-yard line, and the Golden Bears’ ensuing punt gave Oakland the ball at Mt. Juliet’s 40.

Oakland used eight runs to drive for the touchdown, including a 3-yard run on a fourth-and-2 by Myers. Three plays later, he slashed into the end zone on a 13-yard score to give his team a 7-0 lead with 9:33 left in the first half.

Oakland seemed on the verge of taking control, but was stopped on a fourth-and-2 at the Mt. Juliet 21. That kept the Golden Bears in the game and proved to be even more crucial in the second half.

“In a game like this, field position is very important,” Perry said. “Their guy is a Mr. Football candidate for a reason and he showed it tonight, but our defense bowed up several times with their backs against the wall. You could not ask more out of a defense than what we got out of them tonight.”

Mt. Juliet-resident to sign with Ut-chattanooga soccer

Staff Reports

Donelson Christian’s Faith Gober, a Mt. Juliet resident, plans to sign with UT-Chattanooga, coached by former Cumberland coach Gavin McKinney, when the NCAA’s November signing period begins today.

She holds the TSSAA record for career assists with 100 and is second in goals with 191, goals per game with 2.27, season assists with 31 and consecutive hat tricks. She had 31 goals and 16 assists in an injury-shortened senior season. She is a three-time all-state player by coaches and media and a two-time Esmark All-American. She is on the watch lists for the Top Drawer All-America and Gatorade Player of the Year. She is the No. 2-ranked player in Tennessee by Top Drawer Soccer and No. 10 in the South.Gober is also a member of the National Honor Society and is a vice president. She is DCA’s student body president and Fellowship of Christian Athletes vice president.

She chose Chattanooga after visiting Vanderbilt, LSU, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi State as more than 50 colleges showed strong interest in her and was contacted by more than 280, according to her father, Keith Gober.

Saints fall to Nashville Christian 34-7

By Elijah Campbell


Mt. Juliet Christian was unable to contain Nashville Christian’s run game as the Saints were eliminated from the TSSAA playoffs following a 34-7 loss Friday night.

The Eagles jumped out to an early lead after Martease Edwards took an Mt. Juliet Christian punt 72 yards to put the visiting team up 7-0. One possession later, Nashville Christian running back Dakota Owens scored the first of two touchdowns of the night to push the Eagles’ advantage to 14-0 with 1:06 left in the opening quarter.

Mt. Juliet Christian fought back in the second quarter and limited the damage Nashville Christian imposed. With 3:07 left in the first half, the Saints pulled within one score when quarterback Christian Link connected with junior wide receiver Gavin Forsha on a 25-yard touchdown pass to make the score 14-7 at halftime.

The second half, however, is where Nashville Christian pulled away for good. The Eagles took the second half kickoff, and on its first drive, took almost six minutes off the clock and capped off the scoring drive with Owens’ second rushing score of the game, this time from only three yards out. A Link interception on the following drive provided the Eagles with excellent field position, which led to Micah Fann’s 4-yard touchdown rush to extend the lead to 28-7.

On the last drive of the game for Nashville Christian, freshman running back Josh Strickland rushed for a 15-yard score.

Despite giving up 147 yards and two touchdowns to Owens, Mt. Juliet Christian head coach Dan Davis claimed it was the futility of his defense that led to Owens’ big night, not him.

“It wasn’t him, it was us. Plain and simple,” Davis said after the loss. “It was us, not him.”

Davis was also positive after the game when reflecting on his team’s season. He said the program took a step closer to where he wants it to be.

“We still made a lot of progress this year. We’ve gone to back-to-back quarterfinal games, and this time we earned a bye. We’ve beaten people we haven’t beaten before, so we’re growing as a program, and we got better this year.”

The loss sends Mt. Juliet Christian into the off-season. Nashville Christian will move on to the TSSAA Division II Class A state semifinals, where the Eagles will square off against Davidson Academy after a win over Grace Baptist Academy on Friday night.

Bears make statement with upset win

MJ awaits visit from Oakland

MT. JULIET — Mt. Juliet answered naysayers about its strength of schedule Friday night with a convincing 35-14 upset of Blackman in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs at Mel Brown Athletic Complex.

The Golden Bears bounced back from a fumbled opening kickoff and ensuing Blackman touchdown to eventually dominate the Blaze on a blustery night on a muddy field, advancing to next Friday’s 7 p.m. quarterfinal against top-ranked Oakland at the Brown Complex.

The Blaze, whose only previous loss was to Oakland, returned to Murfreesboro with a final 10-2 mark for 2018.

With the wind affecting both teams’ passing games, it became a running game, and a matter of whose mistakes would hurt which team most. In the end, Blackman’s three lost fumbles were more costly than Mt. Juliet’s two.

After Trey Knox scored from the wildcat on a 2-yard run to stake Blackman to an early lead, Mt. Juliet offensive coordinator Zach White went through his call sheet to find what would work and found ramming Justin Harrigan up the middle worked best.

The battering ram from Pennsylvania set Mt. Juliet up for the first of quarterback Alvin Mixon’s three touchdown runs, this one on a 15-yard run to the left pylon off the read-option to tie the score early in the second quarter.

Then it was Blackman’s turn to fumble the kickoff as the Bears recovered at the Blaze 35-yard line. Following a 30-yard run by Connor Ruzek, Mixon weaved through the defense for 10 yards and the go-ahead score 25 seconds after his tying touchdown.

Amazingly, Mt. Juliet got a third straight possession by recovering a surprise onside kick. But Blackman’s Luke Hayes blocked Robbie Brewington’s 31-yard field goal try and returned it 36 yards to the Bear 44.

By then, defensive coordinator Greg Abner and, it seemed, every other coach on the sideline, had figured out the Blaze’s scheme and were all signaling in defensive signals.

“We diagnosed everything,” Perry said. “There was no stone left unturned. I could not be more proud of our coaching staff, of our players, because our offense, defense and special teams, we needed those reps. Just like on kickoffs, with us getting three fumbles, those are things that are huge in situations like this.

“Coaches say ‘don’t play with emotion, don’t play with emotion’. I’m just not that guy because I can’t coach without emotion. And they played that way tonight.”

It worked as the Blaze couldn’t make hay with their field position and had to punt.

It continued in the second half as Blackman had to punt from midfield. The ball made an abrupt stop on a rugged field at the 30, from where Michael Ruttlen scored on a 70-yard wingback trap to give the Bears breathing room at 21-7.

Mt. Juliet got another unanswered possession as the Blaze again fumbled the kickoff. But the Bears stalled and tried to punt, only to have a high snap leave Blackman with the ball at the MJ 40.

Quarterback Drew Beam’s first completion of the night got Blackman inside the 20 and Ta’micus Napier’s 9-yard run (the transfer from McGavock had 91 yards on 14 carries before exiting in the fourth quarter with an injury) put the Blaze inside the 10.

“Obviously, he’s (Napier) a really good back,” said Perry, noting the Bears faced him twice when he was at McGavock. “You got to have three sets of eyes in the box. Our guys did a great job with that all night long, playing the cutback lanes, because that’s where they’re really good at walling people off and cutting back, and our guys took advantage of that.

“And our defensive backs were awesome. Our defensive backs have tremendous speed and we made the windows tight for them.”

Perry admitted the cold wind was a factor, for both sides.

“We asked before the game if we could have a wet, cold phone booth to play in tonight and that’s exactly what we played in tonight, and that’s okay with us,” Perry said.

Blackman’s third fumble of the night, recovered by linebacker Britain Steele, killed the Blaze’s chances of a comeback.

Or so it seemed, as the Blaze got the ball right back on a Mt. Juliet turnover on the 12.

But the Bear defense bowed its neck, focusing on Napier and stopping him at the 4 before a delay-of-game penalty backed up the Blaze on fourth down, from where Beam’s pass went incomplete.

Mt. Juliet went 91 yards the other way on runs by Harrigan, who had 85 yards on 22 carries, and a 37-yard jet sweep by Ruttlen, who led the Bears with 143 on nine, before Ruzek’s second 30-yard run of the night landed him in the end zone early in the fourth quarter.

The Bears finished with 340 rushing yards, not an unusual stat this season. But having two runners with more than 80 yards and one with over 140 (Mixon finished with 60) is because Mt. Juliet fields so many rushing threats in its wing-T.

“These guys all year long have been so unselfish about who’s getting the ball, who’s getting touches,” Perry said. “They block for each other, and that’s huge.

“And, cliche of the year, but our offensive line was tremendous, headed up by Coach (Curtis) Grah. They were special tonight.”`

In desperation, Blackman went for it on fourth down, only to have Beam called for intentional grounding, giving Mt. Juliet the ball at the Blaze 17. Mixon muscled in the 1-yard scoring sneak for his hat trick with 6:29 to play.

Blackman got a late touchdown on Beam’s 6-yard run with 4:45 to go.

Larry Woody: A bittersweet return to deer camp

Old friends huddled around the crackling campfire, laughing at re-spun yarns and catching up on another year that somehow flashed by when we weren’t looking.

There was a vacant seat or two, and at times a pensive silence settled over the group, like a chorus of katydids suddenly falling quiet all at once.

More than once the flicking firelight caught someone wiping their eyes. Must have been the shifting wood-smoke.

The occasion was the annual autumn deer camp get-together hosted by boyhood buddy Bill Selecman and brothers Steve and Mark at their cabin near the wilds of Catoosa.

In all the years I’ve attended the deer camp, I don’t recall anyone actually killing a deer, but that’s OK. The deer is just an excuse.

One of this year’s missing members was Ben Selecman, son of Mark and Brenda. This time last year Ben was sitting around the campfire with us, grinning and absorbing good-natured kidding about his upcoming wedding to Mattie Jackson, daughter of country music superstar Alan Jackson. Ben wore a big white cowboy hat in emulation of his soon-to-be father-in-law.

In September the young couple were on a boat in Florida when Ben fell and suffered a fatal head injury.

Ben, 28, was one of the best and brightest young men I’ve ever met, with unlimited promise as an assistant DA in Nashville.

Re-wind back 51 years and I was the nervous newly-wed, having somehow won the hand of a pretty brown-eyed angel named Mary Frances. She died last spring after a struggle with dementia. I miss her more every day.

The night wasn’t all maudlin, of course. Someone produced a Mason jar containing a mysterious clear liquid, and as it made its way around the fire for about the third time, the frosty air began to lose its nip and my arthritic knees didn’t ache so much. Also, across the flames, someone suddenly had a yearning to yodel.

I re-told the story about a summer when we were kids and Bill disobeyed his parents and slipped off from home to go fishing with Tom Thurman and me. Bill didn’t make it; he was cut off at the pass by his not-too-happy dad. He survived the trauma – as he did a severe copperhead bite years later — and went on to become Crossville’s most popular dentist.

Thurman, a retired Deputy DA who successfully prosecuted several of the most notorious criminals in Nashville’s history, was on hand to corroborate my runaway-Bill story.

My cousin Jerry Hedgecoth, a retired TWRA officer, as was his dad, recalled a practical joke my Uncle Leonard played on a Catoosa co-worker. He washed out an empty turpentine bottle and re-filled it with clear Karo Syrup. Next day at lunch he took out the bottle, unscrewed the cap, and poured “turpentine” on his biscuit. As Uncle Leonard munched away, his co-worked blanched and gagged.

Uncle Leonard also once made some fake bear tracks in the mud along a Catoosa stream. At the time bears were rare, and a wildlife biologist was notified. After carefully examining the tracks, he proclaimed they were made by a three-year-old female bruin that weighed approximately 250 pounds. Uncle Leonard later said the expert was right about everything except the age, sex, weight and species.

After the laughter subsided, quiet settled in. Off in the distance a lonesome owl hooted. A breeze rattled dry leaves in an overhead oak and fanned the dying fire, and glowing embers slowly dimmed on another deer camp.

Larry Woody is The Democrat’s outdoors writer. Email him at 

MJCA’s Hylick a Division II-A Mr. Football semifinalist

Staff Reports

Mt. Juliet Christian running back Darius Hylick is one of five semifinalists for the Division II-A Mr. Football award, it was announced by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association last Thursday.

The senior, who was also a semifinalist last year, has 1,361 yards and 18 touchdowns on 189 carries in nine games this season. He is also among the Saints’ leading tacklers at inside linebacker.

Also up for the award are Davidson Academy teammates Da’Joun Hewitt and Stone Norton, Middle Tennessee Christian’s Kemari McGowan and Rube Scott Rhea of Fayette Academy.

The semifinalists were nominated by head coaches and media members based on regular-season performances, academics and character. A committee of statewide sports writers will select the winners.

The five semifinalists will be whittled down to three finalists which will be announced by Titans announcer Mike Keith at 2 p.m. Nov. 12 at The three finalists will be invited to the awards luncheon at Nissan Stadium on Nov. 25.

Hylick and the Saints drew a first-round bye in the Division II-A playoffs last week. They will play host to Nashville Christian, a 41-0 winner over Ezell-Harding last week, at 7 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinal round at Ed Suey Field.

Mt. Juliet’s Grimes to play in Polynesian Bowl in 2020

Staff Reports

Reggie Grimes II is just a junior, but the Mt. Juliet star already has a senior all-star game booked.

The Golden Bear running back/defensive end has accepted a bid to play in the Polynesian Bowl in January 2020 in Honolulu.

“The Poly Bowl was something I heard about when it first started,” Grimes told Barton Simmons of “It was cool, but I never thought I would be playing in it. I get to learn about the culture and then play the sport they love to play. When I first started playing football when I was four or five years old, I never knew where it would take me and now It’s taking me to Hawaii so it’s a good thing.”

Grimes, whose namesake father played for Alabama and in the NFL and is now a Golden Bear assistant coach, is the No. 34 player nationally in the 2020 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite. He’s No. 1 in Tennessee and the No. 3 weakside defensive end. He has offers from major powers including Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Clemson and Tennessee. He’s hoping to draw interest from Texas, Miami and Florida.

Golden Bears sack Cavaliers 42-7

Blackman comes to town for second round

By Phillip Anthony


MT. JULIET — Last year, Mt. Juliet lost its opening-round playoff game 20-14 to Riverdale; this year, however, the Golden Bears made sure there wasn’t a repeat performance against Cookeville with a 42-7 win over Cookeville at Mel Brown Athletic Complex.

The victory preserved Mt. Juliet’s perfect record, pushing it to 11-0.

Colby Martin returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown to begin a 42-point first-half onslaught for the Golden Bears. Four plays later, Cage Ellis returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown to give the Golden Bears a 14-0 lead without an offensive play.

“Cage Ellis is the epitome of a student athlete. He studies; he watches film, so it’s no surprise to us that he was in the right place at the right time,” said Mt. Juliet head coach Trey Perry.

After a forced Cavaliers’ punt, Mt. Juliet drove 63 yards in nine plays capped off by an Alvin Mixon 22-yard touchdown pass to Malik Bowen.

The Bears’ defense again forced a quick three and out, and after Martin returned a punt 17 yards to the Cookeville 43-yard line, Mt. Juliet increased its lead to 28-0 on the first play of the second quarter, as Justin Herrington plunged in from 3 yards out.

Two plays later, Cookeville quarterback Blaine Espinoza completed a short pass to B.J. Billen, who fumbled, which was was scooped up by Ellis and returned 33 yards for a touchdown. The Cavaliers started to move the ball on the next drive, but Espinoza was picked off for the second time in the game, this one by Devin Palmer who returned it to the Cavalier 27-yard line. After a holding penalty backed Mt. Juliet to the 33-yard line, two plays later, Mixon and Bowen would reconnect again, this time for a 25-yard touchdown.

“That second touchdown pass that Alvin threw to Malik was an absolute dime,” said Perry.

The Cavaliers mounted one final drive before the half, as they marched to the Golden Bears’ 19-yard line. Following a sack, Cookeville made a final heave to the end zone that was knocked away to end its final scoring attempt of the half.  Mt. Juliet had possession the ball just more than seven minutes and scored 42 first-half points.

With a running clock in the second half, both teams traded punts in the third quarter. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Billen took a reverse and went 63 yards for the only Cookeville score of the game.

Cookeville came into the game averaging 187 yards a game rushing, but Mt. Juliet held the Cavaliers to 28 yards in the fist half.

“Our defense played lights out tonight. They just keep being amazing this whole season,” said Perry.

Mt. Juliet will play host to Blackman in the second round of the state playoffs. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Friday.

Saints knock out Donelson Christian

By Kimberly Jordan


DONELSON — Mt. Juliet Christian Academy earned its first win over Donelson Christian Academy on Friday night.

Running back Darius Hylick rushed for 222 yards on 29 carries and collected all of the Saints touchdowns in a 35-6 win.

With just less than seven minutes to play in the opening quarter, Hylick found pay dirt on a 3-yard run and gave the visitors a 7-0 lead.

The Wildcats recovered a fumble with 3:39 left in the first, and a few plays later, Jordan Turner gave the home stands a reason to cheer with a 1-yard score. The extra point attempt went wide, which left Mt. Juliet Christian ahead 7-6.

The ensuing kickoff was recovered by the Wildcats, but the Saints defense forced a turnover on downs, which gave them the ball at their own 23. Mt. Juliet Christian put together a five-play drive that included a 470yard run by Logan Collier to set up a 23-yard touchdown sprint by Hylick.

The Wildcats next drive included two penalties and a sack, which forced them to punt. The Saints grabbed their second touchdown of the quarter after Link found Collier on the outside for a 58-yard pass, which allowed Hylick to scramble in from the 11-yard line on the next play.

Donelson Christian drove down the field and made it to the 17-yard line before Parker Kelley overthrew a man in the end zone to end the half.

The Saints’ first possession of the second half was a 10-play drive that ended in a 1-yard punch in for Hylick. Donelson Christian had two long drives that ended in zero points the second half before Hylick would seal the deal with 2:15 remaining as he motored 44 yards for his final score of the night.

Saints’ coach Dan Davis said after the contest his team “came out and played well. They did everything we asked them to do. The defense played hard.”

Donelson Christian concluded a 0-10 campaign. The Saints record moved to 7-2 and 5-1 in the East Region to capture second place. They will return to action at 7 p.m. Nov. 9 when the winner of Ezell-Harding-at-Nashville Christian visits Suey Field.

Wildcats slide past Bison in rain-filled Senior Night 21-7

Jake Hood


GLADEVILLE — Wilson Central (3-7) defeated Station Camp (3-7) 21-7 amidst its senior night celebration Friday night.

The Wildcats came out on top of the Bison through a rain-and-penalty-filled game. The two teams combined for only 336 yards of offense and 255 penalty yards. Several personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct calls contributed to the massive amount of yards from penalty. Wilson Central and Station Camp finished fifth and sixth in the Class 6A Region 4 standings after this season-ending matchup.

The Wildcats capitalized on a Station Camp fumble from Justin Black almost immediately after halftime. A two play, 27-yard touchdown drive followed Wilson Central’s fumble recovery. Jared Lawrence capped off this drive with an 18-yard touchdown reception from senior quarterback Dylan Carpenter, who wore number 1 in honor of injured teammate and running back Ladarius Stewart.

Along with a Wilson Central touchdown in the second quarter, the score was now in favor of the Wildcats 14-0.

However, Station Camp did answer quickly. The Bison went three and out on their drive to follow, but a roughing-the-kicker call gave quarterback Blaine Forte and the Bison new life. Forte did come out of the game, though. Sophomore quarterback Luke Sinnard came into the game and led the Bison to a touchdown quickly. He connected with Larkin O’Shea for 45 yards, threw three incomplete passes, and then found O’Shea again for a 17-yard touchdown pass on 4th and 10. Neither team crossed the goal line for the remainder of the quarter.

The first half of the game was rather quiet for both Wilson Central and Station Camp. Garrett Todd started off the night with a 46-yard kick return, but the following drive ended on the bad snap that could be blamed on the steady rain that fell on Wildcat Stadium Thursday night and the majority of Friday and Friday night. Station Camp’s Bryce Coates recovered the snap, and the Bison offense took the field for the first time.

They went three and out on the drive, and Todd burst out on another electrifying return, this one for 66 yards. However, a block-in-the-back penalty brought the Wildcats from the Station Camp 20 back to the Wilson Central 10. This drive ended where it started, and the remainder on the first quarter followed suit, leaving the score tied 0-0.

The Wildcats found their rushing game, and the end zone, late in the second quarter. Neither team put a scoring drive together until a nine-play, 42-yard Wilson Central drive put the Wildcats up 7-0. This came on a 3-yard Dawson Ray power rush.

Station Camp started its drive at the Bison 15-yard line, and several penalties plagued the drive, ending the half on what would have been 2nd and 28 on the Station Camp 12.

The fourth quarter played similarly to the third. The Wildcats scored early, but the Bison did not answer this time. Stratton Farmer scored on a 10-yard rush, did a celebratory backflip, and kicked the following PAT. He did receive an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but this turned out to be the last touchdown Farmer would score as a Wildcat. The game concluded on a 9-yard Carpenter quarterback keeper that was 3 yards shy of crossing the goal line, and the Wildcats closed their senior night on a high note.

Wilson Central and Station Camp both failed to reach the playoffs this season, but the Wildcats did defeat the Bison to match their 2017 record (3-7) and extend their win streak over Station Camp to four. Station Camp improved on its 2017 record, moving from 1-9 to 3-7, but has not defeated Wilson Central since 2014.

Bears golden in back-to-back 10-0s

Mt. Juliet threepeats as region champs, hosts Cookeville in playoff opener

By Andy Reed

MT. JULIET — Both teams had to battle cool, damp conditions in addition to each other. But Mt. Juliet would not be denied a second straight 10-0 regular season or a threepeat region championship as the Golden Bears fought off Hendersonville 28-13 on Senior Night at the Mel Brown Athletic Complex on Friday night.

“We talked about it all week long because it is special,” Perry said. “I’m very guilty of this because you get caught up in what’s next, what’s next, what’s next. But just a second ago I told them let’s enjoy this because it’s a special thing and this is a tradition school that’s been around a long time. It’s something these seniors can take with them forever.”

The Golden Bears controlled the first half as running back Connor Ruzek scored on sweeps of 12-yard sweeps for a 21-0 halftime lead.

In between, following a fumble recovery by linebacker Jayce Pardue, quarterback Alvin Mixon threw a 33-yard pass to wide receiver Malik Bowen in a double team in the end zone off a double handoff. Mixon then threw a two-point pass to receiver Bryan Aiken to overcome an earlier blocked extra point.

“It’s probably the best first half we’ve played all year,” Mt. Juliet coach Trey Perry said. “Hendersonville, to their credit, never laid down. That’s what a region championship game should be. And we answered in the fourth quarter when we needed to on both sides of the football.”

But Hendersonville’s coaches made halftime adjustments and momentum swung to the visitors during the third quarter. Running back Dalton Jones scored on a 3-yard run and, after a high snap on a Mt. Juliet punt gave the Commandos a short field to work with, Drew Hohenbrink muscled in a 1-yard quarterback sneak to bring HHS to within 21-13. Colby Martin blocked the extra point to leave Mt. Juliet with an eight-point lead late in the period.

“They’ve got a great coaching staff,” Perry said. “They did a good job of formation adjustments. When you’ve got 17 seniors starting, those adjustments are quicker. It’s a one-statement thing. But you got to give them credit for executing it.

“I felt (the blocked extra point) gave us a little momentum. And that was the kind of thing where ‘why are we spending 20 minutes of film on extra-point block’ and Coach (Greg) Abner and his staff did a great job scheming that up and it’s because every point matters and at that point it changed momentum for us.”

Mt. Juliet drove the ball to the Hendersonville 31-yard line before stalling on downs to flip the field. The teams exchanged punts before Martin ran 26 yards to the end zone to give the Golden Bears a two-score lead with 4:16 to play.

The Bears, who will have home-field advantage for up to four games as long as they win, will play host to Cookeville at 7 p.m. next Friday. Hendersonville (7-3), which finished second in Region 4-6A, will play at home next week against Riverdale, which lost to Blackman 41-1. The Blaze will play host to Lebanon.

“We played a great football team tonight and a great football program,” Perry said. “Obviously, it’s a great feeling, but it’s also great preparation for next week.”

Operating under slick conditions, running back Justin Harrigan ran for 108 yards on 19 carries as Mt. Juliet finished with 243 rushing yards. Marcello Walton scooted for 64 first-half yards on four totes. Mixon completed 5 of 11 passes for 101 yards.

“Harrigan is a sledgehammer, he’s the Pennsylvania Sledgehammer,” Perry said of the transfer. “I just named him that.

“I am extremely proud of our staff, but I am extremely proud of (offensive coordinator) Coach Zach White because he had a tremendous game plan and they executed and he stuck with it. That’s hard to do on nights like tonight and weather like that.”

Both teams had misplays which could have been attributed to the weather. But Perry said it could have been worse.

“Overall, I felt like both teams did a great job with operations in these circumstances,” Perry said. “Obviously, you want to be better, but I also think that’s a big testament to the officials. This crew did an outstanding job with that part of the operation tonight. It’s one of the things that goes unseen, but I promise you both teams had dry footballs all night long.”

MJCA 7th-grader crowned youngest champion at Fairgrounds track

By Larry Woody


Chase Johnson, a 12-year-old seventh-grader at Mt. Juliet Christian Academy, became the youngest champion in the 60-year history of Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway when he captured the Pro Mod Division title in the track’s regular-season finale.

“It feels great,” said Chase, whose dad Andy won the Pro Mod championship in 1997 and the premier Late Model crown in 2008.

“Winning the championship was our goal at the start of the season, and it’s great to get it,” said Chase, who earlier in the year became the youngest winner of a feature race in the track’s history.

That record-setting victory was one of four Chase collected during the season, helping him compile an almost insurmountable points lead going into the final race. All he had to do to secure the title was take the green starting flag.

“That took a lot of the pressure off,” said Chase, who finished second in the finale. “I was able to relax and enjoy it.”

“I’m proud of him,” said Andy, who retired as a full-time driver to devote more time to his son’s efforts. “Racing is something he has always enjoyed doing, and he’s good at it.”

What was his father’s advice going into the decisive race?

“He said to be smooth, have fun and be safe,” Chase said. “And he said he loved me.”

And afterwards?

“He said he was thrilled, and proud of me.”

Chase, who drove a pink car in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, said he had a lot of help on his way to the championship, starting with his dad and step-mother Allison, along with grandparents Peggy and Richard Johnson.

“My dad is my inspiration,” Chase said. “I started watching him race as early as I can remember, and I always wanted to be just like him.”

He also named crew members Randy Weaver, Bubba Reed, Jason Brewer and Tommy Miller as instrumental to his success. And, like any good stock car driver, he didn’t forget his sponsors: Lynch Tree Service, Parker Brothers Window Tinting, Action Homes, Barrett’s Garage and Hale’s Mobile Park.

He also included track operator Tony Formosa on the list. Formosa stepped up and saved the track a few years ago when it was on the verge of demolition.

“I’ve had a lot of help from a lot of people,” Chase said. “I wouldn’t be in this position without them.”

Chase, who won dozens of races and titles in Quarter-Midget competition, is headed on to bigger things next season: he will move up to the Limited Late Models.

“They are faster with a lot more horsepower,” he said. “It will take some getting used to, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Last spring, as Chase prepared for his first season of racing full-bodied stock cars, he said he knew what some of the track’s veteran drivers were thinking:

“They think I’m a kid in a driver’s suit.”

They don’t think that any more. They know the kid’s a winner and a champion, just like his dad.

Larry Woody is the Mt. Juliet News’ motorsports writer. Email him at