Author Archives: mopattonsports

About mopattonsports

Longtime Nashville-based sports journalist, with experience on high school, collegiate and professional levels, looking to pass on my insights of the local landscape ...

Lipscomb gets commitment from Mr. Basketball finalist

Lipscomb’s full-court press netted a men’s basketball commitment this week, as Franklin Road Academy guard Kenny Cooper announced his plans to sign with the Bisons during the November recruiting period.

“The coaches have recruited me and wanted me on their team since my sophomore year,” said the 6-foot Cooper, who averaged 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists and four steals for the Panthers as a junior to help them to a 24-8 finish while earning Division II-A Mr. Basketball finalist honors last season.

“I’m really good friends with some guys on the team that really wanted me there, and I realized it would be the best fit for me.”

Cooper also considered Ohio Valley Conference rivals Austin Peay and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, as well as Furman, before settling on the Bisons. Once he arrives on campus, he’ll join former teammate Rob Marberry – who originally signed with Western Kentucky and spent last season there before transferring – and ex-Battle Ground Academy guard Nathan Moran.

He’ll also be following in the footsteps of his high school coach. John Pierce played at Lipscomb and became the all-time leading scorer in men’s college basketball history, surpassing ex-Bison post and current Lipscomb athletics director Philip Hutcheson.

“Coach Pierce … told me it was my decision and to make the right one,” Cooper said. “He wanted me to make my decision.

“I’m excited. I’ve been getting lots of calls and texts from people excited about watching me play right here at home, excited to see me move on to the next level.”

While Pierce didn’t exert a lot of influence on Cooper, he is pleased with the outcome.

“I don’t think I influenced him at all, but as a former Bison, I couldn’t be happier,” Pierce said. “I wasn’t trying to push him, one way or the other. But it’s a great decision for Kenny. I’m really excited for him and really excited for Lipscomb.

“It’s a great fit for him. Knowing (Lipscomb coach) Casey Alexander and the kind of man he is, the kind of program he’s trying to build, I think Kenny is a great fit for them and what they’re trying to do. And Kenny’s a great kid regardless of what kind of player he is, but he’s a great player, very competitive. Whatever level he wound up at, he was going to rise to that challenge. If he’d gone to a major Division I program, he’d have found a way to play. He has a real knack for the game.

“He’s going to go there and do well.”


Crash leaves Nashville Christian football team in mourning

Mickey Martin, a junior at Nashville Christian School, was killed in a Thursday afternoon car accident in which two of his teammates were injured, according to NCS football coach and athletics director Jeff Brothers.

Senior running back/defensive back Mareio McGraw and sophomore two-way lineman Brant Lawless were passengers in the vehicle, in which Martin lost control and left the road near his Joelton home following practice.

McGraw and Lawless were transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, treated and released.

“He had a personality bigger than life,” Brothers said regarding Martin, who had 15 interceptions during his freshman and sophomore seasons and scored seven touchdowns last fall. “He was loved by everybody. An incredible talent, gifted in everything he tried, a difference-maker. He was a great teammate, loved his teammates, loved his school. He was known throughout Nashville and respected by everybody we played.”

Martin also played basketball and baseball at Nashville Christian.

His father, Mike Martin, was a longtime youth coach in the Joelton area and operated Martin’s & Bailey’s Wrecker Service and Mike’s Custom Towing. Mike Martin died following injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident on New Year’s Day 2012.

“We went to church with Mickey and he and my daughter, Kacy, were friends,” said Chip Sullivan, Hunters Lane athletics director. “I had the pleasure to see him play ball growing up and develop into an outstanding athlete. He was the kind of young man you wanted your son or daughter to be friends with. A magnetic smile and personality.”

Riverdale’s Boykin sweeps pair of wrestling titles at Fargo

Nick Boykin arrived in Fargo, N.D., as a Tennessee high school wrestling state champion.

He’ll leave as a potential Olympian.

The 285-pound Riverdale rising junior, who became the first Volunteer State athlete to win a Cadet Greco-Roman national championship Monday with a 16-6 technical-fall victory over California’s Gavin Nye, added a freestyle crown Friday with a 10-0 tech-fall decision over Zach Muller of Illinois.

He is the only Tennessee wrestler to win both Greco-Roman and freestyle championships at Fargo.

“We’ve had some great wrestlers,” said Jeramie Welder, one of three Team Tennessee coaches at the tournament. “Tennessee has some of the best wrestlers in the country. We’re just having a hard time building the Olympic styles. That’s the big thing. Everything (in Tennessee) is focused on folkstyle at a young age. We’re playing catch-up with a lot of these states.

“Nick’s style, the way he wrestles, his positioning is great. He’s a really good Greco wrestler, even though he’s new at it. He made a name for himself and represented Tennessee incredibly well.”

In a performance very similar to his run through the Greco-Roman bracket, Boykin won all of his matches by either technical fall or pin in freestyle competition with the exception of a 10-4 decision.

“I didn’t expect to just go out and demolish everybody,” said Boykin, who was making his first appearance at Fargo. “I knew it would be good competition. I wanted to do my best. It was really fun.”

Boykin’s tournament performance caught the attention of collegiate and national coaches – including Matt Lindland, who has worked with a number of wrestlers at the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs.

“Matt called me after (Friday’s championship match) and told me he’s got to work with him,” Welder said. “He was ready to get him out to Colorado tomorrow. He said he can be an Olympic champion if he wants to be. I agree with him. He’s that good, that talented.

“What he did is a really big thing for Tennessee. A lot of people may not realize it, but it is amazing what he’s done. He had one match that went the whole distance and he was still in complete control of it. I wouldn’t have expected him to walk over these guys like he did. He’s really god a lot of people talking. The buzz is out there.”

The 16-year-old is still trying to figure how to balance his new wrestling future with his high school athletic career – he’s a two-way lineman for Riverdale, which begins full-pad practice Monday.

“I’m going to play football, but my main priority is wrestling, after this tournament,” he said.

Along with Boykin, Father Ryan’s Eli King earned Cadet freestyle all-American status with his fifth-place finish at 138 pounds Friday. Ryan’s Trey Chalifoux will be a Junior freestyle all-American as well and will wrestle for seventh place in Saturday’s medal round.

MBA pair earns boys soccer all-American honors

Montgomery Bell Academy’s Andrew Conwell and Will Emerson were both named to’s high school all-American team recently.

Conwell, a senior midfielder, scored 14 goals — including the state semifinal game-winner and one in a 3-0 Division II-AA championship victory — with 10 assists this past season. He’s set to attend the University of Washington, where his dad, Ernie, was a member of the Huskies’ 1991 national championship football team.

Emerson, a junior defender, was part of a unit that allowed just three regular-season goals. He has committed to Stanford as part of its 2016 recruiting class.

Scholarship to honor legendary Midstate soccer coach

Over a highly successful coaching career that included four state championships, Jimmy Burchett influenced countless Franklin High School girls’ soccer players.

With the establishment of a scholarship in his name, the 18-year coaching veteran will continue to do so.

Burchett was dismissed as coach at Franklin following the 2014 season, during which the Lady Rebels went 17-4-1 and lost to eventual Class AAA state titlist Clarksville in the substate round. A couple of months after his dismissal, Burchett was diagnosed with lung cancer.

“The combination of the two things made my heart break for him,” said Christine White, whose daughters Chesney and Jiliana were teammates on Franklin’s last state championship squad in 2011. “I wanted to do something for him. We tried to figure, what could we do to honor him.

“He’s impacted girls for years and years. This way, he could continue to have an impact.”

In just over a month, nearly $3,000 have been raised through a GoFundMe campaign. Plans are to award $1,000 annually to a Lady Rebel soccer player who will continue her career collegiately, with “special consideration … given to student-athletes who have embraced the Lady Rebel tradition through dedication and commitment to the Franklin High School girls’ soccer team.”

“This is absolutely fantastic,” Brentwood girls soccer coach Cal Long said. “I think this is such a wonderful idea and something that speaks to the true heart of the game, of what Jimmy has not only brought to Franklin High School but to youth soccer in Middle Tennessee.”

Burchett succeeded Gary Shrader – who led the program to nine state titles before stepping down in 1996 – and compiled a 309-72-1 record. His teams advanced to eight championship games, winning in 2000, ’02, ’04 and ’11 and placing second in 1999, 2001, ’09 and ’10. The 2011 team went 24-0 and was named No. 1 in the nation by the National Soccer Coaches’ Association of America (NSCAA).

Additionally, he coached five high school all-Americans – Brittney Potts (2001), Katy Rayburn (2002), Lucy Brient (2008), Morgan Zigelsky (2009) and Jessica Hiskey (2011).

“I just wanted him to feel this outpouring of support from the community, especially the way his coaching career ended,” White said. “I feel like a lot of people will want to show their support. Coaches have been very supportive.

“I just want him to be celebrated.”

To learn additional information on the scholarship fund, go to

Division II boys soccer all-state teams announced

The Tennessee High School Soccer Coaches Association announced its Division II-AA and DII-A boys soccer all-state teams Tuesday:

Division II-AA

Forwards: David Bowan, Sr., McCallie; Wesley Brown, Sr., McCallie; Cole Cannon, So., Christian Brothers; Andrew Conwell, Sr., Montgomery Bell Acad.; Kyle Johnson, Sr., Baylor; Juan Monseratt, Sr., Christian Brothers; Luke Parker, Sr., St. Benedict.

Midfielders: Stephen Bailey, Jr., Father Ryan; Michael Bringard, Sr., Pope John Paul II; Louis Brown, Sr., Montgomery Bell Acad.; Chris DiPietro, Sr., Christian Brothers; Drew Viscomi, So., McCallie; Hayden Whitley, Jr., Christian Brothers.

Defender: Will Emerson, Sr., Montgomery Bell Acad.

Goalkeeper: Colin Brewer, Sr., Baylor.

Division II-A

Forwards: Sidney Bryant, So., Sacred Heart; Charles Campbell, Fr., Univ. School of Jackson; Jacob Haddad, Sr., Battle Ground ACad.; Carscon Schelp, Jr., St. George’s; Lathan Spadafora, Fr., St. George’s.

Midfielders: Armandi Armani, Jr., Lausanne; Harrison Cox, Sr., Evangelical Chr.; Jeb Gary, Jr., Knoxville Webb; Tim Geraghty, Sr., Sacred Heart; Connor Jacobs, Jr., Knoxville Webb; Stephen Oliver, Jr., Evangelical Chr.; Doni Thomas, Jr., Lausanne; Tim Whicker, Sr., St. George’s.

Defenders: Peter Linn, Jr., Evangelical Chr.; Alex Smith, Sr., Battle Ground Acad.

Goalkeeper: Elo Wittig, Sr., Knoxville Webb.

Boys soccer coaches name Class A/AA all-state team

The Tennessee High School Soccer Coaches Association announced its 2015 Class A/AA boys soccer all-state team Tuesday:

Forwards: Jon Creek, Jr., Christian Acad. of Knoxville; Ibrahima Dia, Sr., Sheffield; Noah Jordan, Sr., Berean Chr.; Will Patton, Sr., Chattanooga Chr.; Niklas Stehnck, Jr., Chuckey-Doak; Luis Vital, Sr., White House.

Midfielders: John Beasley, Jr., Boyd Buchanan; Porter Black, Sr., Chattanooga Chr.; Dallas Dunn, Sr., Christian Acad. of Knoxville; David Ingram, Jr., Boyd Buchanan; Alec McKenzie, Sr., Knoxville Catholic; Jacob Metkler, Sr., Page; Harrison Myers, Jr., Christ Presbyterian Acad.; Zavior Phillips, Jr., Murfreesboro Central; Matt Zaczyk, So., Christian Acad. of Knoxville.

Defenders: John Barbosa, Sr., Chatt. Arts & Sciences; Jake Brown, Sr., Christ Presbyterian Acad.; Owen Clark, Jr., White House; Matthew Tomlin, Sr., Madison Academic; William Whitaker, Sr., Christ Presbyterian Acad.

Goalkeepers: Taylor Bailey, Sr., Greeneville; Walker Hagan, Sr., Christ Presbyterian Acad.