Category Archives: football

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.”

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Naval invasion taking place in Middle Tennessee

Originally published in the July 13 issue of The Contributor.

It’s roughly 700 miles from Nashville to Annapolis, Md. – the location of the United States Naval Academy.

And while there’s no way to physically make the two any closer, Amos Mason has helped shorten the distance in some respects.

The former Brentwood Academy three-sport standout was one of the early products of what has become a recruiting pipeline for Navy’s football program as coach Ken Niumatalolo enters his eighth season.

Signing a year after ex-Goodpasture quarterback – and current Heisman Trophy hopeful – Keenan Reynolds and alongside onetime Independence standout Jalen Wade, Mason is projected to be among 14 Middle Tennessee products that will either be on the Midshipmen’s roster or at the Naval Academy prep school this fall.

Another Midstate standout, East Nashville defensive back DeVarius Cortner, committed to Navy earlier this spring.

“I always try to send them down here to look for more kids,” said Mason, a 6-1, 250-pound junior who heads into the upcoming season listed second on the team’s depth chart at left defensive end, during a recent trip home.

“I know the talent we have down here. Coach (Ashley) Ingram, who recruited me, always takes a look down here and does a great job of recruiting them and selling them Navy, and they turn out to like it.”

The sales job and the success – Navy has made five bowl appearances in six years (including a 24-6 win over Middle Tennessee State in the 2013 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl), with a 10-win season and a pair of nine-win campaigns – have made their impression. Among last year’s area seniors, eight committed to the program, with five of those entering the Naval Academy prep school for the upcoming year.

“They know the kids can be successful. That’s what they told me about Jackson,” said Jack Pittman, father of former Brentwood Academy lineman Jackson Pittman and an assistant coach for the Eagles. “The Naval Academy has had the same coaching staff, they’ve had success with the kids and they’ve continued to come back to certain areas. I think they’re willing to take a chance on a kid, listen to coaches a little more, based on relationships.

“With Jackson and me, we looked at the statistics. You’ve got 250 kids that are going to get drafted (annually by the NFL). What are you going to college for? You have to think about it in the right way.”

In addition to the younger Pittman, Blackman’s Charlie Davidson, Quen Hardy and Ronnie Killings will attend the prep school along with Independence’s Dom Childress.

Cole Euverard, who quarterbacked Montgomery Bell Academy to the Division II-AA state title and was named Mr. Football last fall, was inducted into the Academy along with Friendship Christian offensive lineman Andrew Wood and Lipscomb defensive lineman Jackson Mitchell.

All will go in with the knowledge that upon graduation, they are obligated to active military duty.

“You have a secured job, for however long you want to have it,” Mason said, in a variation of the pitch he received. “Most college kids are doing internships, trying to find jobs. They give us a job. We have to do it for five years. If you want to, you can continue doing that job, or you can get out and do something with your degree from the Naval Academy. You have a lot of options, after that five years. And at 27, 28, you’re still relatively young.”

With scholarship offers to wrestle – as a former three-time state champion — at Eastern Michigan and Cal Poly and to play football at Murray State and Samford, no other option was as attractive as Navy for Mason.

“I’m at a Division I school, playing huge schools like Notre Dame and Ohio State,” he said. “I don’t know how much better it could get. You get to play in the Army-Navy game. I’m pretty sure that was the only game on television that day. You’re going to a bowl, playing in the only game on TV. Getting that kind of coverage, everybody seeing us, the opportunity you have at the Academy and the opportunities you have after – it’s tough to turn down.

“I have no regrets.”

Metro football jamboree schedule announced

The schedule for the 47th Metro Nashville High School Football Jamboree has been set. Matchups are scheduled for three sites, with each team playing two quarters. Admission is $6.

Thursday, Aug. 13, 7 p.m. at Maplewood: Pearl-Cohn vs. Stratford; Hunters Lane vs. Maplewood.

Friday, Aug. 14, 6 p.m. at Cane Ridge: Hillwood vs. Antioch; Mt. Juliet Christian vs. Glencliff; Whites Creek vs. Cane Ridge.

Saturday, Aug. 15, 7 p.m. at Overton: Hillsboro vs. McGavock; East Nashville vs. Overton.

2014 gridiron state champ cracks national preseason listing

Defending Class 3A state titlist Christ Presbyterian Academy will open the 2015 season listed among the nation’s top mid-sized schools, according to one website.

MaxPreps has the Lions at No. 16 in its medium schools preseason Top 25, which was announced Sunday.

CPA, which defeated Alcoa 7-0 in last year’s title game to complete a 15-0 campaign, returns its highly touted passing combination of senior quarterback Zack Weatherly and senior receiver Joseph Richard.

The Lions open at Peachtree Ridge (Ga.) on Aug. 22.

Assistant takes over top spot for Jackson County football

Thomas Cagle has been elevated to the head coaching position at Jackson County following the resignation last month of Sean Loftis, who left to join the coaching staff at Gallatin.

Cagle, 28, served as an assistant under Loftis last fall after spending the previous two seasons at East Nashville.

“We had a good foundation with Coach Loftis before he left,” Cagle said. “I know the things that were planned and talked about, and a lot of that’s going to make my job easier. I’m excited to build on that foundation.”

Jackson County finished 7-5 last fall, losing in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs after an opening-round win over Eagleville. It marked the fifth consecutive playoff appearance for the Blue Devils reached the playoffs.

Loftis, a 1997 Jackson County graduate, went 34-33 over six years.

“It’s definitely going to be a rebuilding season,” Cagle said. “We lost a lot of seniors, most of them along the offensive and defensive lines. We’re trying to find the guys that are going to step up and take the responsibility of solidifying both sides of the ball for us.”

Jackson County will be among 27 football programs that underwent a coaching change from the end of the 2014 campaign to the start of the 2015 season.

Hillsboro defensive back going home to play college ball

Hillsboro defensive back Malique Fleming cut his recruiting process short Friday, announcing he will sign a football scholarship with Mercer in February.

“I didn’t want to miss out on the great opportunity up there,” Fleming, a Georgia native, said of his decision to join the upstart program at the Macon school – about 90 minutes from the Stone Mountain/Tucker area where he grew up.

“It’s one of the best academic schools out of the offers I have. (The program) is fairly new, but not too new. They have a foundation, I see them building something and I want to be a part of it.”

The 2015 season will be the third year of competition for Mercer, which plays in the Southern Conference. The school originally began playing football in 1892, but had a couple of stoppages and ceased competition following the 1941 season for World War II before restarting two years ago.

As a junior, the 5-11, 190-pounder registered 88 total tackles with five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, eight pass breakups and six interceptions – three of which were returned for touchdowns. Fleming helped spearhead a Burro defense that pitched five shutouts last fall and held 12 straight opponents to 14 points or less while advancing to the Class 5A state finals.

Offensively, he had 167 receiving yards and 164 rushing yards on 39 combined touches with five total TDs.

In addition to Mercer, Fleming had offers from other Football Championship Subdivision programs Austin Peay, Murray State, Tennessee-Martin, Tennessee-Chattanooga and Kennesaw State.

Boiler Up: Indy’s Johnson bound for Big Ten football

Nate Johnson’s first Big Ten football scholarship offer may not be his only one – but the Independence receiver says it will be the only one that matters.

The 5-10, 170-pounder committed to Purdue this week.

“Being my first Big Ten offer, I wanted to go ahead and secure the spot,” said Johnson, who had 62 catches for 1,290 yards and 17 touchdowns during the Eagles’ 6-5 campaign. “I had offers from Appalachian State, Army, UT-Chattanooga and some small FCS offers. But Purdue being Purdue, I had to go ahead and secure my spot there.”

Johnson is set to become at least the second Midstate high school product in as many years to sign with the West Lafayette, Ind., school. Former Ensworth tight end Brycen Hopkins signed with the Boilermakers in February.

“They’ve recruited a lot of guys in the Williamson County area, given out a few offers,” Johnson said. “They’re definitely more active in the Middle Tennessee area.

“I don’t know if more offers are going to come (for me), but I’m committed to Purdue and that’s all I’m focusing on now.”

Purdue finished 3-9 last fall (1-7 Big Ten), dropping its final six games, all in conference play.