Mt. Juliet Christian denied East Region lead by Friendship in 48-7 defeat

By Phillip Anthony


MT. JULIET — After committing turnovers on their first two drives, Friendship Christian drove 30 yards in three plays to start the scoring as Justin Seagraves scored on an 8-yard touchdown run to give the Commanders a lead they would never relinquish en route to a 48-7 win over Mt. Juliet Christian last Friday night at Suey Field.

After stopping Mt. Juliet Christian on their next drive, the Commanders got a 2-yard sneak from quarterback Braden Reece to increase their lead 14-0. The big play on the drive was a 37-yard completion to Dorian Champion.

“We have a lot of great players,” said Friendship head coach John McNeal, “and tonight I thought we had great performances out of each of them.”

After an interception of Logan Collier, Reece found tight end Cade Holcombe, and he ran 55 yards for a Commander touchdown.

The Saints got on the board, thanks to a lateral on the kickoff from Gavin Forsha to Collier, who took the ball to the Commander 14-yard line. Two plays later, Collier found Forsha for a 15-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead 21-7.

The Commanders would tally one more score before halftime, as a roughing the kicker penalty kept the drive alive. The next play after the penalty, Reece would find Champion, who took a 53-yard catch and run to the end zone to give the Commanders a 28-7 lead at the break.

After punting on their first drive of the second half, the Commanders would get their second takeaway of the half, as Jackson Eskew intercepted Darius Hylick and ran for a touchdown. However, a holding call during the return negated the touchdown. It took five plays as Reece rolled left and looked to run, however, the defense came up on him, and he quickly tossed a pass to Holcombe in the end zone for his second touchdown of the evening. The next drive was a quick one for the Commanders, as they forced a punt, and on the first play of the drive, Jaheim Robinson ran 60 yards for another Commander touchdown.

In the second half, the Commanders’ defense allowed 11 total yards, and forced four turnovers, including the final touchdown of the game, as Ernie Gallatin intercepted a deflected pass and ran for 38 yards for the score.

“I thought defensively that we played extremely well,” said McNeal. “That is the most physical running back we will play all year, and I thought our guys did a great job of being physical on defense all night long.”

The Commanders have a bye week next week, and in two weeks they travel to King’s Academy. The Saints also have a bye week next week, and in two weeks they travel to Ezell-Harding. The Commanders are now 4-0 in the region, and the Saints fell to 2-1.

Golden Bears dominate Rossview 48-10

By Riley Grubbs

CLARKSVILLE — Mt. Juliet proved too much for Rossview, picking up its third victory in Region 4-6A, winning 48-10 Friday.

Mt. Juliet moved to 3-0 in the region while Rossview dropped to 2-1 inside the region and 5-2 overall. The Golden Bears are now 7-0 overall.

Mt. Juliet set the game’s tone on its first possession. Quarterback Alvin Mixon and the offense made short work with a three-play, 72-yard drive ending when Mixon connected with Malik Bowen for a 53-yard score on a play-action pass.

After Rossview punted on its first drive, Mt. Juliet continued its attack. The Golden Bears spent the drive attacking the perimeter of the defense and ended the drive as Michael Ruttlen took the ball to the end zone on a 38-yard stretch run.

“We got a little bit out of the passing game too, because that opens that up and loosens the corners up,” Mt. Juliet coach Trey Perry said. “We hit Malik [Bowen] on a couple of big ones early on and that helped open up the perimeter later.”

Mt. Juliet continued to put the game out of reach, jumping out to a 34-0 lead late in the second quarter.

Connor Ruzek scored on a 15-yard run and Mixon found Bowen for the duo’s second touchdown connection. Justin Harrigan then scored on an 18-yard run.

“They’re a very good football team,” Rossview coach Todd Hood said. “They broke a lot of tackles. We didn’t do a good job tackling for whatever reason that is.”

Rossview scored on its last drive of the half with Zaden Webber hitting a 49-yard field goal.

The Golden Bears answered with yet another touchdown to end a dominating first half, building a 41-3 halftime lead.

Mt. Juliet’s backups played the entire second half, while Rossview elected to keep the starters in.

Rossview forced its way into the end zone late in the fourth quarter on a Brock Rowland bootleg run for a touchdown.

“We’ve got to forget about it,” Hood said. “We have to correct our mistakes and get better at each position. We have to get better at practice this week and move on to the next one.”

Mt. Juliet, now tied with Hendersonville atop the region, will step out of league play next week when the Golden Bears play host to McGavock at 7 p.m. Friday.

Community grieves loss of teen who drowned

By Jared Felkins

Keon Dotson

WATERTOWN – A tight-knit community continued Monday to mourn the loss of a 17-year-old boy who drowned Saturday while swimming at Old Hickory Lake.

Wilson Emergency Management Agency divers found the body of Elijah Keon Dotson, of Watertown, on Saturday evening after about a three-hour underwater search at Cedar Creek Boat Ramp in Mt. Juliet. 

Dotson was a senior at Watertown High School. He previously played football and was a member of the track and field team. According to Watertown High School principal Jeff Luttrell, counselors were made available Monday to students who needed support. 

“We are so saddened as a school and community at the loss of our student, Keon Dotson,” Luttrell said. “He possessed a powerful smile and a personality that drew people to want to know him. We will take every step possible to ensure we assist our students as they grieve the loss of a friend and classmate.”

A community prayer service was held Sunday evening in the library at Watertown Middle School, organized by the Bridge’s parents of teens life group and the church’s youth group. All community members and students were invited to participate. 

According to social media posts, students and faculty wore red Monday to school in honor of Dotson. According to a tweet by a member of the football team, the Purple Tigers dedicated their season to Dotson, and the student section plans to have a “red out” during Friday night’s game against Westmoreland. 

Wilson County sheriff’s Lt. Scott Moore said the incident on Old Hickory Lake happened Saturday at about 2:30 p.m., and divers found the Dotson’s body at about 6 p.m. He said Dotson tried to swim to a buoy beyond the swim area, and there was a change in water depth where he went under and was unable to surface. 

Wilson County sheriff’s boat patrol and Wilson Emergency Management Agency water rescue crews searched for Dotson on Saturday afternoon in Mt. Juliet. 

WEMA director Joey Cooper said divers were called to the boat ramp to search for the teen. Moore said it’s believed no foul play was involved. 

Cedar Creek Boat Ramp is at 9264 Saundersville Road in Mt. Juliet. Old Hickory Lake is part of the Cumberland River.

Football manager’s dream comes true

By Angie Mayes

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
West Wilson and Walter J. Baird players cheer for Aiden Atkins (80) as he heads toward the goal line last Tuesday night to score the first touchdown of the ball game.

Special to Mt. Juliet News

A magical moment during the West Wilson Middle School football game last Tuesday night brought people to their feet and tears to their eyes.

That’s when Aiden Atkins, the team manager, entered the game and ran the first touchdown of the evening. The moment was unique because Atkins has a muscular disease.

The moment was the brainchild of head coach Naz Roseberry. He knew Atkins has a dream of playing sports, but, because the disease that affects his leg muscles, he was unable to be a part of a team as a player. Instead, he joined the team as the manager.

“Aiden has been a manager for me for two years,” Roseberry said. “It’s kind of been a conversation of ours that kind of became real this year. I saw the opportunity to do it. I thought it would be a special moment for him.”

Roseberry admitted, while the moment was special to Atkins, it was also a high point in his career.

“The moment was special for him, but it was probably more special for me and the school,” he said. 

Roseberry said West Wilson’s opponent, Walter J. Baird Middle School, was more than happy to help. 

“I called them, and their coach was very open and said, ‘anything we need.’ They wanted to be a part of this special moment, too,” Roseberry said. “He felt like this would be a good teaching moment for his guys, as well.”

Atkins said the touchdown was, “a very surreal moment for me. I was very in the moment. I really didn’t have a concept of this. I just went along with what was going on, and it happened. Coach told me I was going to run it in. I only had an hour to prepare.”

He said he prepared mentally and “through Christ. I have a good relationship with Christ, and that helps with mentally preparing myself.”

Atkins’ dad, Alan, and mom, Michelle, were in the stands. Atkins’ dad said he was proud of his son.

“This was a wonderful experience,” Alan Atkins said. “He came home saying it was a lot of fun. Of course, winning [the game] helps.”

Alan Atkins said it wasn’t hard to keep the secret. His son knew he was going to dress out. 

“He was not fully expecting to do what he did,” Alan Atkins said. “It was something very special for us and him. He loves the team and feels like he’s contributing something by being their manager. The team also appreciates what he does for them.”

His parents were gracious to Roseberry for planning the event.

“I want to thank [Roseberry],” Alan Atkins said, who added the family “thinks the world of him. We were so excited to be able to experience that with him.”

Aiden Atkins said he’s always wanted to play a sport, but was never able to due to his condition. 

“This is one opportunity that I’ll never forget,” he said.


Hylick rushes for 248 yards, three TDs as Saints win region opener

Staff Reports

Mary Felkins • Mt. Juliet News/File
Mt. Juliet Christian running back Darius Hylick (5) and quarterback Christian Link.

SEYMOUR — Darius Hylick put up big numbers once again to help Mt. Juliet Christian put up a 29-14 triumph at King’s Academy in the Saints’ East Region opener last Friday night.

Hylick scored three touchdowns while rushing for 248 yards on 34 carries. Logan Collier added the other rushing score while finishing with 71 yards on two carries as Mt. Juliet Christian climbed to 3-1 for the season.

Christian Link provided aerial support by completing 7 of 15 passes for 65 yards. Hylick had three catches for 16 yards while Collier caught two balls for 35.

Defensively, the Saints intercepted four passes, including two by Collier and one each by Hylick and Jamarion Thomas.

Carter Branim kicked a 24-yard field goal to help the Saints build a 10-7 halftime lead before MJCA pulled away.

“(Hylick) had a huge night, Logan Collier had a huge night,” Mt. Juliet Christian coach Dan Davis said. “Those guys stepped up and rose to the occasion.

“The entire team stepped up in the second half.”

The Saints, who have just three home games this season (Concord Christian was supposed to play at Suey Field before dropping football), will play their fourth straight on the road at 7 p.m. this Friday in Murfreesboro at undefeated Middle Tennessee Christian.

Mt. Juliet wins 10th straight over Wilson Central

By Jake Hood

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
Mt. Juliet linebacker Marcello Walton gets in the face of Wilson Central quarterback Dylan Carpenter on a first-quarter pass, forcing an incompletion and a subsequent punt.


It was rivalry week for Wilson Central and Mt. Juliet that culminated in a 21-7 win for the Bears to remain undefeated. 

Wilson Central, which came off a win at John Overton the week prior and had star running back Ladarius Stewart in the starting lineup for the first time since week one, knew it was going to be a tough night against the undefeated Bears. 

Mt. Juliet came off of a 49-3 blowout at Gallatin, and it kept the streak rolling at Wilson Central. This was the 10th-straight win against the Wildcats for Mt. Juliet, as Wilson Central has not defeated the Bears since 2008.

The first quarter rushed by, and so did the Mt. Juliet offense. A 47- yard pass from senior quarterback Alvin Mixon to Malik Bowen highlighted the Mt. Juliet drive that concluded with Mixon breaking out on an 18-yard rush for the Bears’ first touchdown with 6:30 left in the first quarter. 

Wilson Central did not attempt to establish a passing game in the first, with only one attempted pass by quarterback Dylan Carpenter during the Wildcats’ first drive. Wilson Central’s rushing core had a good night, led by Stewart, however. The Wildcats stayed deep in their own territory for all of their possessions in the first.

It wouldn’t change in the second quarter, though. Unable to reach midfield, the Wildcats needed to establish a passing game, for Mt. Juliet’s defensive line let almost no single run go for more than 10 yards. Three-and-outs were common for the Wildcats, and they only converted one of eight third downs all night. Stewart fumbled at the end of a run that would have been 38 yards, but Connor Ruzek recovered for Mt. Juliet and brought the ball back into Wildcat territory. 

With halftime drawing near, the Bears struck again on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Mixon to Bowen, which brought the score to 14-0. Bowen’s touchdown gave the Wildcats 14 seconds to score before the half, but after a 47- yard kick return by Garrett Todd, time expired in the first half.

The Bears began with the ball in the second half, and they wasted little time scoring. With just less than eight minutes remaining in the third quarter, Mixon aired out a -15-yard touchdown pass to Sage Brawner, and Mt. Juliet had a shutout going against Wilson Central, 21-0. Once again, the Wildcats were not able to get a solid drive going, and their offense stayed on the Wilson Central half of the field for the remainder of the third quarter.

In the fourth, the Wilson Central offense came together to keep the Wildcats from the shutout by their biggest rival at home. With 8:07 left in the game, Carpenter rifled a 45- yard touchdown pass to Stewart, and with former starting running back turned kicker Stratton Farmer’s successful point-after, the Wildcats trailed 21-7 late in the second half. The Wildcats tried to score again, but the Bears’ defense held the Wildcats to a mere seven points. Mt. Juliet outscored its first five opponents a combined 182-20 to remain unbeaten.

Wilson Central was not able to establish much of a passing game, as Carpenter was 2-for-4 for 47 yards, compared to Mixon who completed 4-for-11 passes for 86 yards. The Wildcats’ rushing core, led by Stewart, put up 123 yards. 

Mt. Juliet had several rushing threats. Ruzek, Michael Ruttlen, Justin Harrigan, Mixon, Marcello Walton, Colby Martin and Reggie Grimes all combined for 268 rushing yards. 

The Wildcats travel this Friday to face Gallatin, and Mt. Juliet will return home to play Clarksville Northwest. 

Clark finds her place with WNBA championship

By Andy Reed

NBAE/Getty Images
Former Mt. Juliet High star Alysha Clark (far right on front row) stands in front of coach Dan Hughes, who drafted her in 2010 with San Antonio and cut her during the preseason, as the Seattle Storm pose with their newly-won WNBA championship trophy Wednesday night.

In 2010, San Antonio Silver Stars general manager Dan Hughes drafted Alysha Clark from Middle Tennessee State.

A lifelong post player, the 5-foot-11 Clark was too small to play inside as a pro and didn’t make the team.

Her professional career began in Israel, where she became a dual citizen. She also reinvented her game to play more on the perimeter. And someone who scored at will at Mt. Juliet High, Belmont University and MTSU on the block learned to score from outside and on drives to the hoop.

Most importantly, she learned to play lockdown defense anywhere on the floor.

With her new toolbox, she signed with the Seattle Storm in 2012 and went through the franchise’s rebuilding pains as the team transitioned from its 2010 championship to contender status. ESPN reported Holly Rowe tweeted Clark wouldn’t unpack her bags, fearing she would be cut.

“I’ve been working for years to find my place in this league,” an emotional Clark told Rowe following Seattle’s 98-82 win over the Washington Mystics to complete a 3-0 sweep in the WNBA finals. “And to be on this stage right now and to be an important part is amazing.”

Meanwhile, Hughes was lured out of retirement by the Storm this season and, after cutting Clark eight years ago, inserted her at power forward alongside three all-stars as Seattle posted the WNBA’s best record in 2018 and, as of Wednesday night, the championship.

Clark finished the final game with 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

“I do feel like I belong,” Clark told Rowe.

Saints win defensive struggle behind Collier’s all-around play

By Elijah Campbell


CELINA—In an intense defensive battle, Mt. Juliet Christian Academy handed Clay County its first loss of the season in a 14-6 grind-out win in Celina on Friday night.

Senior wideout and cornerback Logan Collier was a one-man wrecking crew as his all-around performance on offense, defense and special teams paved the way for the Saints’ victory.

“He really came out and did what he had to do,” Saints’ said head coach Dan Davis. “He stepped up big, and that is what we expect out of him.”

Collier scored both of the Saints touchdowns during the game. The first, a 65-yard punt return in which he muffed the punt, recovered it, reversed field and took it to the house to give the Saints a 7-0 lead with 7:12 remaining in the first quarter. After his interception of Bulldog quarterback Jake Ashlock with 1:56 left in the second quarter, the opportunity was set up for him to find the end-zone for his second score of the game.

Following the pick, Collier’s second touchdown came on a 24-yard touchdown reception off pass from sophomore quarterback Christian Link with 29 seconds left in the first half to send the Saints to the locker room up 14-0.

Later in the fourth, Collier left the game with an apparent injury that sidelined him for the rest of the game. However, Davis said after the game that Collier’s removal was a result of “a little cramp.”

Clay County refused to go down without a fight, however, as a rushing touchdown by Bulldogs running back Jared Marcom barreled his way into the end zone with 7:02 remaining to cut the Saints lead to eight points.

Clay County had a chance to score late to potentially tie the game on its final drive, but after a Gavin Forsha interception of Ashla’s pass with 1:56 remaining, the nail was firmly hammered into the coffin as the Saints ran the rest of the clock out to come away with the eight-point victory.

Wildcats outlast lightning, Bobcats for first victory

By Jake Hood


NASHVILLE — Wilson Central traveled to John Overton in search of its first win Friday night, and the Wildcats came away with just that in a 14-7 slugfest at Nick Coutras Field.

Overton, coming off of a win against Stewarts Creek, held its homecoming Friday night, as well. It was a rain-and penalty-plagued game, including a one-hour lightning delay and 27 penalties.

The first quarter flew by, as neither team was able to find the end zone. The ball lived around midfield until Bobcats running back Adams Diomande rushed the ball up to the Wilson Central 3-yard line on an untimed play.

On the first play of the second quarter, Overton quarterback Sam Mast fumbled a snap that was recovered by Wilson Central’s Dawson Ray. The following drive by Wilson Central ended with a Tristan Lewis punt, but the weather did not cooperate for the rest of the quarter. After four minutes of pouring rain, the officials took a lightning delay with 2:49 left in the second. Lightning would continue to push the game farther and farther into the night, as play did not resume until about 8:30 p.m. with a half of football yet to be played.

The rain delay brought what seemed to be a different Wilson Central team onto the field. After halftime, Wildcat kicker Ezra Widelock gave Wilson Central the ball back with his successful onside kick. Thirty-six seconds later, running back Garrett Todd put the Wildcats on the board 6-0 with 57-yard touchdown run. Widelock’s extra point was no good, however. With about seven minutes to go in the third, the Wildcats answered again with a 19-yard quarterback keeper by senior Dylan Carpenter. Carpenter then completed the two-point conversion that put the Wildcats up 14-0 halfway through the third quarter. Mast and the Bobcats battled back to 14-7 two minutes later on a 1-yard touchdown run. The rest of the third quarter was quiet, and the game drew 12 minutes away from the first Wildcat win of the season.

The fourth quarter was quiet until Overton’s last drive of the game. The Bobcats marched from the Wildcat 40 all the way to the 10. On fourth and nine with 1:14 left in the game, Sam Mast was unable to find a receiver, sealing the Wildcats’ first win.

This brought Wilson Central to 1-3, and Overton fell to 1-3 on the year.

Wilson Central moves on to take on Mt. Juliet High School in its biggest game on the year Friday, and John Overton will play its third-straight home game against Smyrna.

Bears wear out the Wave 49-3

By Andy Reed

GALLATIN — The Mt. Juliet players, coaches and fans who endured loss after loss after loss to Gallatin during the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s might have thought this day would never come.

The 2018 Golden Bears overcame a slow start to dominate the Green Wave in all phases of a 49-3 thumping Friday night at historic Calvin Short Field, named for the legendary Gallatin coach who oversaw many of those GHS wins.

A 52-yard pass from Ander Sloan to Spencer Briggs on a wheel route set up Trace Kelley’s 35-yard field goal for a 3-0 Gallatin lead just over two minutes in.

Robbie Brewington had a shot on the other end from 37 yards only to see his line drive hit the left upright.

But the Bears dominated from then on as Justin Harrigan scored on a 1-yard run to put Mt. Juliet ahead 7-3 to start a 29-point second quarter as the undefeated visitors never looked back.

“I just told them I felt like it was a complete team victory – offense, defense, special teams,” Mt. Juliet coach Trey Perry said following a rare lopsided victory on the field which has been the home of the Wave since 1930. “This is a tough place to win, and always has been, so it’s even a little big more special to play like this on Calvin Short Field. What a great coach he was, a legend. It’s a big win for us.”

A 5-yard Gallatin punt gave Mt. Juliet the ball at the Green Wave 13-yard line. Alvin Mixon covered the distance with a flip to Malik Bowen, who then picked up the snap on the extra point and threw to Bryan Aiken for the two-point conversion and a 15-3 lead.

Cage Ellis intercepted a Gallatin pass. But Mixon, who completed 6 of 8 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns, threw into double coverage in the end zone for an interception.

But Sloan gave it right back on the next play as Connor Ruzek intercepted a deflected pass and returned it 30 yards for a 22-3 lead.

Mt. Juliet burned a couple of time outs to get the ball back. Mixon didn’t need that much time as he heaved a 66-yard bomb to Bowen for a 29-3 halftime lead.

Bowen, who caught three passes for 127 yards, won a jump ball to grab a 48-yard aerial from Mixon to set up Ruzek’s 1-yard scoring run for a 36-3 lead.

Ruzek then stripped the ball free from a Gallatin running back and Devin Palmer scooped up the ball and scooted 50 yards for the touchdown and a 43-3 cushion.

Derek Miller recovered a Gallatin fumble and Camron Malone cashed in with a 7-yard scoring run to wrap up the night as the clock continued to run.

Fifteen Golden Bear ballcarriers gained 258 yards on 38 carries. Mt. Juliet accumulated 421 yards and 16 first downs while giving the punter the night off.

Seven nights after Mt. Juliet’s failure to execute the center/quarterback exchange caused the Bears grief against Lebanon, Mt. Juliet recovered its only bad snap. But Gallatin had the yips, including sailing two snaps over the quarterback in shotgun formation, causing the Green Wave to be held to 16 rushing yards and 72 total with three first downs in falling to 1-3.

“A lot of what happened to us last week happened to them tonight, just some really quirky turnovers that messed up their momentum early in the game,” said Perry, a Sumner County native who grew up in nearby Portland. “I never thought I’d say this, but for us to only fumble one, that’s outstanding compared to last week.

“We had a little bit of a misalignment early on and, credit to them because they did a good job of getting to us on the wheel route. But we adjusted well. Our defense knows who we are and they continued to play great tonight.”

Mt. Juliet will return to Region 4-6A action at 7 p.m. next Friday at Wilson Central.

Rossview edges Wilson Central

By Jake Hood


Wilson Central fell just shy of defeating Rossview 17-14 at home Friday night.

The Wildcats had just come off of a tough loss to Smyrna last Friday, and Rossview topped Christian County. Rossview needed to carry its momentum into the game at Wilson Central to improve to 2-1, and Central needed to try something new to get its first win and not fall to 0-3 on the year.

The game was back and forth through the entire game, but a successful Rossview field goal and a missed field goal by the Wildcats turned out to be the difference.

The first quarter was slow, as neither team was able to put any points on the board for the first 12 minutes of play. The Red Hawks, led by senior quarterback Nick Harbor, were able to march down to Wilson Central’s 35-yard line before turning the ball over on an incomplete pass on fourth and two.

The Wildcats switched from their usual spread formation to a wing-T scheme. This meant the ball would stay on the ground more for the Cats. It worked for Wilson Central all the way to the Rossview 5-yard line before time expired in the first quarter. The rushing core, led by the quartet of Dawson Ray, Devonte McBroom, Garrett Todd and Kwamez Kirby, established the ground game early for the Wildcats.

On the opening play of the second quarter, Garrett Todd ran the ball in for a 5-yard touchdown. This gave Wilson Central a 7-0 lead.

However, Rossview answered with 10:20 left in the second. Nick Harbor threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to receiver Alshon Davis, which tied the score 7-7. Wilson Central had three chances to score in the second following the Rossview touchdown, but the Wildcats were unable to cross into Rossview territory for the remainder of the quarter.

The Red Hawks attacked quickly to start the third quarter. In only 46 seconds, Harbor and the Rossview offense were able to drive to midfield and allow Harbor to unleash a 50-yard pass to Kayden Miller for a touchdown.

About 10 minutes later, though, the Wildcat offense marched down to the Rossview 1, and Dylan Carpenter dove over the right pylon with 5:56 remaining in the third, which tied the score 14-14.

The Red Hawks and Wildcats each had a chance to score, but neither team could find the end zone before the fourth quarter began.

The fourth quarter started off slow for both sides, but the Red Hawks’ kicker Zaden Webber nailed a 44-yard field goal to put Rossview ahead 17-14 with 5:58 remaining in the game. Wilson Central got within field goal range, but kicker Ezra Widelock missed a 37 yarder that would have tied the game at 17-17. The Wildcats would get one more scoring chance after that, but a crucial sack by Rossview put the Wildcats away.

The Wildcat rushing core had a solid night, finishing with 216 total yards compared to Rossview’s 58 yards. Dylan Carpenter completed 3-of-9 passes for 80 yards, and Nick Harbor rushed for 20 yards and complete 8-of-14 passing attempts for 146 yards. Kayden Miller had a solid night, as he had 89 yards receiving and returned two punts for 54 yards.

The Wildcats’ Brett Robinson, McBroom and Ray had 34, 27 and 19 yards receiving, respectively.

The Wildcats will be on the road Friday to take on John Overton. Rossview will be at home next week and looks knock off undefeated Clarksville Northeast.

Bears beat Blue Devils – barely

Staff Reports

MT. JULIET – Mt. Juliet’s regular-season winning was extended Friday night.


Marcello Walton scored on a 7-yard touchdown run with 1:18 left as the Golden Bears had to grind out their 20th straight regular-season victory Friday night, driving 72 yards in the final quarter to beat county rival Lebanon 14-10 before a packed crowd and middle Tennessee television audience.

It was the first Region 4-6A game for both teams. Mt. Juliet (3-0) hasn’t lost a regular season game since Sept. 2, 2016, when it lost 12-7 to Ravenwood.

It appeared Lebanon (2-1) was on the way to perhaps the biggest upset in the history of Wilson County’s longest football rivalry when Christian Pena knocked home a short field goal with 8:51 left, giving the Blue Devils a 10-7 lead.

Mt. Juliet, which had turned the ball over five times and had a punt blocked, finally put together a consistent drive, overcoming a holding penalty and a botched snap – the Golden Bears fumbled nine times, losing four of them.

On third-and-goal from the Lebanon 7, Walton found a hole up the middle and scored. Moments later, he recovered a Lebanon fumble to clinch the victory.

Lebanon, which hasn’t beaten Mt. Juliet since 2008, took the lead on Pena’s field goal. The score was set up when Ryan Brown blocked a punt, setting the Blue Devils up inside the Mt. Juliet 10.

The Golden Bears defense, which held Lebanon to 60 yards, held and forced the field goal. It was the third straight game Pena has made a field goal.

Both teams scored in the third quarter. Justin Harrigan broke off a 50-yard touchdown run on the Golden Bears’ second play of the third quarter to give Mt. Juliet a 7-0 lead, and Crite ran for a 6-yard score on fourth-and-goal to tie the game with 1:31 left in the period. Crite’s score was the first allowed by the Bear defense this season.

Moments later, Brown blocked a punt and Pena kicked a field goal, setting in motion the sequence that led to Mt. Juliet’s game-winning touchdown.

Despite going scoreless, the first half had more than its share of twists and turns. The first came moments into the game when Jeremiah Hastings came up with a tipped pass for an interception.

Mt. Juliet’s first major drive came later in the first quarter when the Golden Bears drove to the Lebanon 23-yard line, but another fumble was recovered by Kholby Salerno to end that threat.

Salerno had another big defensive play moments later when he stopped Mt. Juliet quarterback from escaping for a first down on a third-and-5. The Golden Bears missed a long field-goal attempt.

Mt. Juliet’s third turnover, a fumble recovered by Lebanon’s Daniel Davila, set the Blue Devils up at the Mt. Juliet 29. But the Golden Bears’ defense stood tough again and didn’t allow a yard, forcing another Lebanon punt.

In the first half, the Golden Bears allowed only 14 total yards and one first down. They did not allow a completion in eight pass attempts.

Both teams go on the road next week. Lebanon will visit LaVergne, and Mt. Juliet will travel to Gallatin.

‘Cats come up short

By Phillip Anthony


HENDERSONVILLE—Wilson Central’s Ladarius Stewart ran 71 yards on the games third play to give Wilson Central an early 7-0 lead.

It would be the Wildcats’ only lead of the night. The Beech Buccaneers would rattle off 35 straight points en route to a 35-21 win over the Wildcats.

“After the fumble, we just could not get the field position back until it was too late,” said Wildcats head coach Brad Dedman.

After falling behind, the Buccaneers drove 54 yards in seven plays that ended with a Ja’Sean Parks 11-yard touchdown run. After punting, the Wildcats would get the game’s first turnover recovered by Devonte McBroom at the Beech 41-yard line.

Unfortunately, the Wildcats were unable to cash in for any points. Beech then marched 66 yards in eight plays, with Jefferson scoring from 41 yards out. Beech then forced a turnover two plays later as Stewart fumbled at his own 33 that was recovered by Will Crabtree.

On fourth and 8, Beech quarterback Bobby Whitely took the handoff from backup Jackson Bryan and tossed the pass downfield to Davis Ward for a 32-yard touchdown to increase the Bucs’ lead to 21-7.

After forcing a punt, the Bucs would score once more before halftime, as they marched 56 yards in nine plays, as Aaron Foxx scored on a 2-yard plunge to give Beech a 28-7 halftime lead.

After the teams traded punts to start the second half, the Bucs drove 28 yards after a shanked punt on eight plays to increase the lead to 35-7.

The Wildcats would fight back with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The first drive was 71 yards in seven plays, aided by a facemask penalty on the Bucs. Stewart scored his second touchdown of the night, this time from 20 yards out to cut the score to 35-14.

After the teams traded punts again, the Wildcats went to work from their own 25-yard line. After a pass interference penalty, the Wildcats marched down field in nine plays, and Brett Robinson scored from 13 yards. The big play was a pass from Dylan Carpenter to Xavier Ali for a 31-yard gain.

“Those guys work hard, too, and we are going to need them to contribute this for us to be successful,” said Dedman. “We have a lot of guys playing both ways, so we need to continue to develop depth at each position.”

Hylick’s five TDs power MJCA past Grace Christian 48-6

By Michael Minor


MT. JULIET — Darius Hylick filled another stat line Friday night with five touchdowns to power Mt. Juliet Christian to a season-opening 48-6 win over Franklin Grace Christian at Suey Field.

Hylick ran for 201 yards on 10arries and caught a 27-yard pass.

Christian Link made his debut at quarterback and threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Logan Collier. Link completed half of his 14 passes for 99 yards.

Kameron Curtis ran for 39 yards on three carries while Justin Carney collected four yards on a pair of carries. Jamarion Thomas caught a 10-yard pass.

Gavin Forsha returned one of his two interceptions for touchdowns while Jack Crouch also picked off a pass.

Six of Carter Branim’s extra-point attempts sailed through the uprights.

The Saints scored the first touchdown within the first few plays of the game, and later intercepted the ball from the Lions on the defense’s own 9-yard line and ran for their second touchdown.  The Saints then intercepted the ball with 22 seconds left in the first quarter and completed a 50-yard run for a touchdown ending the first quarter with a leading score of 28-0.

It was 48-0 by halftime.

Grace got on the board in the third quarter

“It is a good first game,” Mt. Juliet Christian coach Dan Davis said. “We have a good group of guys who got to come out and play under the lights for real. It’s just good high school football.”

“Ours boys are young, but they are very talented. Better than they know,” Grace coach Rusty Smith said. “These boys are natural leaders and we may have lost, but we want them to know life is not about winning or losing, it is about the relationships we create through life.”

Mt. Juliet Christian will travel to Watertown’s Robinson Stadium next Friday for the Purple Tigers’ home opener at 7 p.m.

Big Bear Machine roars to opening win

By Andy Reed

MT. JULIET — After watching his Mt. Juliet team open the season with a 63-0 win over Glencliff, Golden Bear coach Trey Perry gave a postgame pep talk – to the losing team.

“I’ve been around (Glencliff) Coach (Tate) Thigpen for two years now,” Perry said. “Had to take the job at the last minute last year in terrible circumstances as far as trying to get things together with his account and finances and all those things which go into football and creating a football program and culture. They had 35 guys dressed out tonight, 17 are freshmen. That’s amazing they came out here and played under the lights at all and got lined up right. We told them to hang in there and trust each other, erase it and play next week.”

Marcello Walton set the tone with a 58-yard return of the opening kickoff as the Bears played in Colt territory all night. Mt. Juliet scored on its first three plays from scrimmage and five of its six first-quarter snaps to lead 35-0 before running the clock the final three periods.

Sixteen Bears carried the ball a total of 21 times. Six of them scored on their only rush after Alvin Mixon’s only pass of the night was a 12-yard score to Malik Bowen on the game’s first play.

Michael Ruttlen and Reggie Grimes scored on 21-yard runs, Conner Ruzek a 29-yarder, Colby Martin an 8-yarder, Conlin Baggott and Trey Evans each crossed over from 26, Cameron Malone from 20 and Trey Evans 16.

“We have a lot of backs who can do damage as far as explosions go,” Perry said. “We did a good job early on with our mesh points. With the wing-T, it’s very important you mesh correctly. Our offensive line did a good job at the point of attack and block until the echo of the whistle.”

Mt. Juliet didn’t punt, turn the ball over or be called for a penalty as the Golden Bears posted their eighth shutout in 12 games dating to last year’s opener, also against Glencliff.

Cage Ellis and Todd Harris intercepted passes while Tristan Kilmon and a No. 82, whose name wasn’t listed on the roster, recovered Colt fumbles.

Recently retired principal Mel Brown was honored before the game when the athletic complex was named in his honor. He also received a frames No. 1 jersey with “Bear Pride” on the front, which the Bears won during the game. He also performed the ceremonial coin toss which was won by Mt. Juliet.

“Bear Pride was a tribute to Mr. Brown and everything he’s done for this school and this community,” Perry said. “We were very excited to be able to surprise him with that.”

Mt. Juliet will continue its three-game season-opening home stand at 7 p.m. next Friday when John Overton pays a visit to Mel Brown Complex.

“Overton had eight seniors last year, they have 25 this year,” Perry said. “Obviously, Lebanon has a very good football team. We need to get past Overton.”

Wilson Central debuts video production trailer

By Angie Mayes

Special to the Democrat

Wilson Central High School sports information department students debuted their new 24-foot media trailer recently that will allow the department to film sports and other events, edit footage and prepare it for broadcast while in the field.

“This is a culmination of a lot of hard work and some dreams coming true,” said Wilson Central teacher and sports information department adviser Jay “Doc” Holladay.

The students decked out the trailer with tables, monitors and storage areas.

“The kids raised the money for some it, and they put blood, sweat and tears into it, literally,” Holladay said. “It’s something that will benefit the sports department here and benefit Wilson County and the school system, really.”

He said the trailer will go to sporting events and “any event that might need some type of exposure. We can videotape it; we can save it and give them an SD card or stream it live, whatever they want.”

Senior Dakota Russ, who was instrumental in the department getting the trailer, said he was in Holladay’s class his freshman year, and Holladay mentioned the need for such a unit for the press box.

“I came in a few days later and said, ‘I want to do this. I don’t know what it is, but I want to do that,’” Russ said.

He said the first away game the crew went on consisted of five members. There are currently about 30 members of the team.

“I’m honored that I got to be a part of the whole journey,” Russ said.

Senior Jordynne Loy said she was “really happy on the inside,” as she looked at the trailer. “We’ve come a long way since my sophomore year. My senior year, this is a big deal.”

Former student Daniel Bradley shared how the trailer came to fruition.

“A few years ago, Cleveland High School came to town for a football game,” said Bradley, who noted the video team not only brought a trailer with them, but also multiple pieces of video equipment. “Doc and I went to Waffle House after the game and talked about being out-funded and out-produced. I almost teared up when I saw this.

He said Holladay is “one of those people you want to work with. He gives people chances to fail, learn and grow from that. This is all good stuff for him, and he earned it.”

Another former student, Christian Kaposy, said he started on the crew as a freshman. He said a broadcast camp with the National Federation of State High School Associations changed everything.

“I went to a broadcast camp in Atlanta,” Kaposy said. “I came back and said, ‘I know you have your own program, but if we start something with NHFS, then we can have something big. This will be the fourth year of NHFS, and you can see what they’ve done with it. It’s been a pretty big move they’ve made.”

Teen out of hospital after deadly bites

Mt. Juliet High School football player bit by tick, brown-recluse spider


Mason Greenwood

A Mt. Juliet teen is out of the hospital and back on the football field after a rare run-in with some deadly pests sidelined him earlier this week. 

Mason Greenwood, 17, a senior on the Mt. Juliet High School football team, had to go to Monroe Caroll Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt after he was bitten by a tick and a brown-recluse spider.

“The brown recluse can actually have a painless bite, so I don’t know when that happened,” said Greenwood. “The tick bite could have happened up to 21 days ago, so, really bad timing with both of them happening at the same time.”

Greenwood said he had a headache one day after practice, followed by a fever and chills. He went to a doctor after the symptoms persisted for a few days, and the doctor found a brown recluse bite.

“I got antibiotics for the brown-recluse bite, and I got worse and ended up in the ER,” said Greenwood.

The reason the antibiotics didn’t work is because the symptoms weren’t caused by the brown-recluse bite, but a tick bite Greenwood didn’t even know he’d gotten.

While Greenwood was in the hospital, the Mt. Juliet High School football team sent out a tweet asking for prayers for their teammate.

“No matter what color uniform you wear, or what kind of field you play on, we need your prayers for one of ours,” said the tweet. “Mason Greenwood, an upcoming senior for us, is at Vandy Children’s Hospital, and he’s struggling right now. It’s a combo of a brown recluse bite and tick-borne illness. Please pray for him and family.”

The tweet received more than 1,000 likes, 371 retweets and 62 replies wishing Greenwood prayers for a speedy recovery. Greenwood left the hospital Wednesday, and even showed up to football practice Thursday.

“He showed up in a very limited role, but the fact that he was on campus was great,” said Mt. Juliet football coach Trey Perry. “It just reminds you, not only of the connection that sports brings you to others, but also the power of prayer.”

Greenwood said the road to recovery has just begun, and it’s already been a difficult one. When he arrived at the hospital, doctors found his kidneys weren’t functioning correctly, and he had pretty severe inflammation in his heart.

“I was dangerously close to a heart attack at one point,” said Greenwood. “So, that was pretty scary.”

On June 22, Greenwood will go back in for an MRI, where he will start to get a feel for how long the recovery will take.

“If there’s scarring on my heart, this sounds crazy but, I’m going to be out for six months,” said Greenwood. “That’s worst case scenario, though. It could be two months, it could be three months, one month; I don’t know yet.”

Greenwood, of course, hopes the recovery is as short as possible.

“My hope is a month at the longest,” said Greenwood. “I really want to get back to playing. I can’t imagine not playing football.”

By Jacob Smith

Use your noodle to catch cats


The neon-yellow foam float danced on the surface, plunged under, bobbed up, and raced off across the lake.

In the front of the boat Chuck Campbell stomped down on the trolling motor and gave chase.

Minutes later we caught up to the bouncing, zig-zagging float and Chuck scooped it up in a landing net. On the other end of a five-foot line splashed a three-pound channel cat.

Chuck unhooked the fish and deposited it the live-well with a half-dozen others. He re-baited and tossed the foam noodle overboard, where several others drifted in the breeze.

Chuck Campbell brings in a catfish at the end of a noodle.

It was late May and the catfish were biting on Old Hickory Lake.

Specifically they were biting on noodles – a float underneath which a baited hook dangles.

Originally the method was known as “jug fishing,” because the early floats generally were made from plastic milk or soda jugs. Then someone discovered that sections of foam swimming-pool toys called “noodles” work as well, or perhaps better, than jugs.

The noodle sections, usually about a foot long, float well, their bright neon colors make them visible at a distance, and they are easy to handle and store.

Noodles can be bought at most tackle venues, or they can be home-made easily and cheaply.

Chuck, of Mt. Juliet, learned the art of noodle fishing – or jug fishing — from Lebanon guide Jim Duckworth who made a how-to video about it.

Making the gear is simple. Cut a swimming-pool noodle into one-foot sections, and on one end attach a length of strong fishing line (from 4 to 8 feet long depending on where you’ll be fishing). Tie a single hook and small sinker on the other end.

For night fishing, wrap reflective tape around the noodle.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency limits the number of noodles or jugs to 50 per person, and each must be marked with the owner’s name and address or TWRA ID number.

Good noodle baits include nightcrawlers, chicken/turkey liver, minnows and commercial catfish baits, but I prefer skipjack chunks. Every spring I store several skipjack fillets in the freezer for later catfishing trips. The chunks stay on the hook well and emit an oily ooze that attracts prowling cats.

As each hook is baited, the noodle is tossed overboard in a cove or along the shoreline in fairly shallow water where catfish congregate during the spring and summer months.

The TWRA prohibits placing noodles, limb-lines or trotlines within 1,000 yards below any TVA or Corps of Engineers dam. Also, common sense should be used when placing noodles on crowded lakes used by recreational boaters and jet-skiers and water skiers. The more secluded sections of the lake, the better.

There are specific rules regarding the use of noodles or jugs on TWRA lakes. Detailed regulations are listed in the Tennessee Fishing Guide.

Noodling may not be for everybody – running the lines can turn into work, and some anglers prefer to fight in their fish on sporting tackle instead of hoisting them aboard by hand.

But it’s an effective way to bring home a mess of catfish for a fish fry, and watching a noodle suddenly bounce and go under is exciting. I’m ready to noodle some more.

By Larry Woody

TWRA’s Gudlin plays quiet, critical role

Mt. Juliet resident Mark Gudlin is a top TWRA official.

Mt. Juliet resident Mark Gudlin is one of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s unsung heroes.

Gudlin, the TWRA’s Chief of Wildlife & Forestry, oversees the Agency’s critical habitat management and protection program, along with its forestry division.

“It’s primarily a desk job,” says the personable Gudlin who joined the TWRA in 1981 as a wildlife officer after earning a Master’s degree at UT. “I miss being out in the field, but this job gets more important every year as we lose more and more wildlife habitat to a growing population.  All of the development we’re seeing right here in Mt. Juliet is a prime example.”

Larry Woody

Gudlin grew up in a Milwaukee suburb. He came to UT to work on a Master’s degree in biology and wildlife management. As soon as he graduated he joined the TWRA as a wildlife officer, assigned to Jefferson County.

From that entry-level job he was promoted a year later to manager of the Agency’s vast Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley Wildlife Management Area. He served there for three years before becoming the TWRA’s Small-Game Coordinator, then Assistant Chief of Wildlife, Habitat Management, and finally his current position.

Gudlin works out of the Agency’s Nashville office, commuting from Mt. Juliet where he and wife Denise live and raised their three children.

Gudlin devotes most of his time to overseeing the TWRA’s wildlife habitat programs and related initiatives, which include working with private land owners for habitat preservation.

“Ninety percent of the land in the state is privately owned,” he says. “It’s important for the Agency to work with land owners and farmers to develop and preserve as much natural wildlife habitat as possible.”

Another branch of the TWRA is involved in land acquisition. Gudlin does not work directly with the acquisition program, but once land is acquired he oversees its habitat management.

“Acquiring land is a vital, ongoing effort,” he says. “Once land is lost to development it’s lost forever. We want to acquire every acre possible for wildlife and public use, and preserve it for future generations.”

Gudlin says shrinking of public lands – and subsequent shrinkage of wildlife habitat – is one the most pressing challenges facing the Agency.

As more and more private land is lost to hunters and other outdoorsmen, they are increasingly forced to resort to Wildlife Management Areas. That results in over-crowding on some WMAs. It’s nobody fault, but such over-crowding spoils the natural ambiance.

The solution is to secure the use of more private land and develop its wildlife habitat. The same applies to the forestry program, which is not only economically beneficial for the TWRA but in many cases is part of a savannah-development effort to aid small-game and native bird populations.

Gudlin admits his desk job keeps him from getting out in the field more often to enjoy the outdoors he treasures — the very thing that led him into a career in wildlife management.

But without the behind-the-scenes work of him and the TWRA, there would be less outdoors opportunities for the rest of us to enjoy. They deserve every outdoorsman’s appreciation.

Hunter Wright hunting more championships

Lebanon racer Hunter Wright is chasing more championships this season to add to the three he won last year.

Lebanon racer Hunter Wright left himself a tough act to follow last season.

The rising Wilson Central High senior won a total of three championships in the Legends Division — capturing the crown at Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway and Highland Rim Speedway and winning the points championship in the Tennessee State Legends Series.

Hunter finished 41st in the National Legends Series among 400 registered drivers across the country.

So far, this season’s encore hasn’t been quite what he envisioned.

“It’s been OK, but I haven’t won yet and that’s kinda disappointing,” says Hunter, who won Rookie of the Year in 2016 and posted 13 victories during last season’s flurry of checkered flags.

“My cars have been fast – I’ve won some poles – but I haven’t been out front at the end,” he says. “I’m not getting the results I want, but I’m not frustrated. It’s still early in the season with a lot of racing to go.”

Hunter says he had no illusions about transforming the triumphs of last season into automatic repeats this year.

“Every year is a new year,” he says. “We hear a lot about ‘momentum’ in this sport, and I guess it can be important from a confidence standpoint. But when it comes down to performing on the track, what you did or didn’t do last season really is not a big factor. You have to go out and perform every race.”

Hunter also believes luck – or fortune – can play a role in racing. Things sometimes happen that are out of a driver’s control, such as a cut tire, broken car part or getting caught up in someone else’s crash.

“They say that racing luck runs in cycles, and last season I had a good-luck cycle,” he says.

In addition to racing in the Legends Division at Highland Rim and Fairgrounds Speedway, Hunter is also running in the Late Model series at the Rim.

“It’s been a big adjustment, because the Late Model cars are about twice the size of the Legends cars,” he says. “On a little (quarter-mile) track like Highland Rim, there’s not a lot of room for full-bodied cars. It gets pretty crowded out there and it’s something I’m having to get used to.”

Hunter credits his dad Dwayne for much of his success. Dwayne, a retired racer, helps prepare his son’s cars and provides trackside coaching.

“My dad is a great coach,” Hunter says. “He has taught me a lot about driving and setting up cars. We do all the work on our cars ourselves.”

Hunter says his mother Julie also is an enthusiastic supporter of his racing efforts. The family owns and operates Premier Sign & Trophy in Gladeville, where their race shop is located.

“Without the support of my mom and dad I couldn’t have accomplished anything,” he says.

Hunter also gives an appreciative nod to his sponsors, starting with Sanders Lawn Care which is also providing him a summer job. Others include Tennessee 811 Call Before You Dig, Springfield Plumbing, Ace Fence & Supply, Al’s Tire Repair and G&S Farms and Trucking.

“My sponsors make it possible for me to race,” Hunter says. “I couldn’t it without them, and I really appreciate their support.”

Mt. Juliet’s Roger Cunningham, Highland Rim Speedway’s co-owner, says bright young drivers like Hunter are the future of the sport.

“They attract fans and that’s what keeps us going,” he says. “We need more like them.”


Superspeedway update: Owners of Memphis Speedway recently announced plans to pursue NASCAR Xfinity and truck series races, stirring speculation that idle Nashville Superspeedway might eventually follow suit.

The Memphis track was formerly owned by Dover Motorsports, which also owns Nashville Superspeedway. Dover officials say they have no plans to re-open the Gladeville track, which is for sale. However, if Memphis is able to successfully host second- and third-tier NASCAR races, that could revive ownership interest in the Superspeedway.

By Larry Woody