Tag Archives: Franklin Road Academy

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.”


Hillwood turns (temporarily?) to Page at top of grid program

Kurt Page, who last coached a high school football game in Tennessee 14 years ago, is virtually set to return to the Midstate sidelines after being appointed interim coach at Hillwood.

Page was originally hired last spring to serve as offensive coordinator under Taylor Burks at Hillwood after spending the last two seasons at Monsignor Donovan in Athens, Ga. Burks resigned Monday to join Oakland’s staff as linebackers coach.

“We’re not thinking or talking about the past,” Page said. “We’ve got a good summer plan. Coach Burks set up a good offseason for them, going back to January. We got five good (spring) practices in and a good intrasquad scrimmage. Now they’re getting into the weight room, getting their running in.”

The offensive-minded Page has incorporated Nashville’s new area code into Hillwood’s ‘pistol’ attack for the upcoming season.

“I went over the last part of May and did a week of spring practice, and the guys responded well to the offense,” he said. “We’ve got a new area code – 629 – and a new adventure. We want to run a six-second play, and be the first team to score 29 (points). We’re trying to get that installed and ingrained into their thinking.”

Hillwood went 1-19 in two seasons under Burks, after he spent three previous seasons as a Hilltoppers assistant under Bubba Spears.

“Oakland is one of the top 10 programs in the state,” Burks said. “I felt this would be a great opportunity for me moving forward in my professional career, to be a part of this program.”

A former standout quarterback at Father Ryan who went on to play at Vanderbilt, Page established the MonDon program two years ago and led it to an 8-3 finish in 2014 and a berth in the Georgia Independent Schools Association (GISA) state semifinals.

Prior to the move, he had spent five years as athletics director at Franklin Road Academy, after previous coaching and administrative roles at Randolph School in Huntsville and St. Thomas in Houston.

In 13 seasons at Battle Ground Academy (1989-1993) and Father Ryan (1994-2001), Page posted a 97-50 mark with a berth in the 1990 state finals and a 1997 state championship.

“I feel good about what I can bring to the table, and I think the players trust me,” he said. “I’ve started two new programs (Randolph and MonDon), and this is something similar – starting over. We’re just trying to instill good work habits and attention, and let all the other take care of itself.”

With his football program set to become 1 of 26 under a different coach when the season opens in 11 weeks, Hillwood principal Steve Chauncy admitted the timing of Burks’ resignation wasn’t optimal.

“Any time you have a change, it’s sudden, but especially this late in the year,” Chauncy said. “But people make decisions that are best for them. We were fortunate to be able to name coach Page in the interim, and we’ll see where we go with that. It will provide some continuity for the kids.

“We’re going to gauge the situation. We certainly anticipate that coach Page could handle it if called to do it through the season, so we don’t expect any problem there if need be.”

Though Hillwood had not enjoyed a great deal of success of late – the team’s last win came in Week 4 of the 2013 season, followed by a current losing streak of 15 games – Chauncy was and is optimistic about the program’s chances heading into this season. The Hilltoppers will be in Region 6-4A with Creek Wood, Kenwood, Lipscomb, Montgomery Central and Northwest this fall.

“Sometimes you have to establish enough athletes and enough momentum to turn a situation around,” he said. “I think the reclassification will be advantageous and hopefully make a tremendous difference for us.”

FRA linebacker set to attend prep school, reclassify for ’16

Keeling Hunter, a two-time Division II-A all-state selection at linebacker for Franklin Road Academy, announced Monday he will attend Peddie School in Hightstown, N.J., as a postgraduate for the 2015-16 school year.

“I wasn’t really happy with my (recruiting) situation at the end of my senior year,” Hunter said in explaining his decision to reclassify. “I feel I’m good enough to play Division I football. This will let me get even better prepared.”

The 6-foot, 220-pound Hunter finished with 113 total tackles last fall, including 20.5 for loss, and scored three defensive touchdowns in earning district defensive most valuable player honors for the second straight year.

After considering a number of prep schools, Hunter settled on Peddie – where current FRA headmaster Sean Casey coached for 17 years.

“I think it’s a little better situation for me,” Hunter said. “The facilities there are awesome, and with (Casey) having been there, I think I know better what I’m getting into there.”

Hunter said he will likely consider Princeton, Dartmouth and Harvard of the Ivy League after completing his postgraduate year.

Let’s get ready to wrestle — state tourney style …

Josh Peck wouldn’t call it strength in numbers, but having a room full of wrestlers two days before the state tournament was an appealing sight for the Ravenwood coach.

And he figures it will be mutually beneficial to all involved.

Six other teams – District 11-AAA rivals Brentwood, Centennial and Independence as well as Page, Battle Ground Academy and Franklin Road Academy – were represented at Tuesday’s practice as fine tuning for the weekend wound down.

“It’s not just having a big room, but having good practice partners,” said Peck, who has traditionally issued an open invitation to area programs this time of year. “Some of these guys can beat everybody on their own team, but you come here and you’ve got a conglomerate.

“There’s somebody that will push you and make you better. And right before state, when the competition level goes up, the better your practice, the better you’ll be.”

Breaking the monotony of a long season is one purpose served by practicing with other teams. Creating a bit of an edge is another.

“You’re out of your element,” Peck said. “You want to work harder with another team – to show them you’re not tired, to show them how hard you work.”

Super six: Middle Tennessee has a half-dozen wrestlers that will be looking for their second state championships in as many seasons.

In Class AAA, Brentwood 152-pound senior Luke Hamilton won at 145 last year. Riverdale’s Sean Kennedy returns at 170 and Wilson Central’s John Kramer is back at 220 after claiming titles at those weights in 2014.

In Division II, Father Ryan’s Eli King eyes a 132-pound crown after winning 106 a year ago, with teammate Chris Wesnofske looking to follow his 2014 win at 132 by doing likewise at 145. Montgomery Bell Academy’s D’on Coofer goes for a second straight 220 title.

Chasing perfection: Riverdale features a pair of undefeated wrestlers — Kennedy (43-0) and sophomore 285-pounder Nick Boykin (38-0).

Also looking to stay perfect is Blackman’s Tyler Garrison, who comes into the state tournament at 54-0 and on a 91-match win streak that covers his junior season as well. The 160-pound Garrison was unable to wrestle in last year’s tournament after being ruled medically ineligible.

Working through tragedy: Blackman will have five wrestlers in action at this week’s tourney, following the death of Daniel Winters in a car wreck early Sunday morning. Winters had just qualified for his first state tournament by placing third in the 120-pound weight class at the Region 5 tourney.

Senior Michael Brobeck, the driver of the vehicle, will not participate after winning the region 132-pound title. Freshman Hunter Winters, Daniel’s younger brother, qualified with a fourth-place region finish at 170 but will not wrestle.

“He’s not ready,” Blackman coach Ronnie Bray said of Hunter’s availability. “If he were a junior or a senior, he’d probably be mature enough, but as a freshman, he’s just not ready.”

As for the remaining five wrestlers – including Garrison, 138-pound region champ Josh Feuerbacher, 152-pound region titlist Matthew Sells and 195-pound region runner-up Andre Bravo – Bray said they’re handling the situation as well as could be expected.

“Each of them is different,” he said. “Thank goodness Tyler and ‘Bam’ (Feuerbacher) are seniors; they’ve still got their eye on the prize. The others are there, trying their best to work hard. (Wednesday) was a big day to get through.

“They’ve been awesome.”

Schedule: Wrestling begins at the Williamson County Ag Expo in Franklin with four rounds of Class AAA competition starting at 3 p.m. Thursday, and resumes Friday at 10 a.m. with all three classes in action as well as the girls tournament. Championship semifinals are scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday and championship finals are set for 5 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $10 per day and parking is $5 daily.

Independence sets fundraiser: The Indy Eagles Wrestling Club will hold a dinner on March 12 at Dolan’s in Spring Hill. Tickets for two are $100, and ticket holders will also be able to guess the number of M&Ms in a jar with a 2015 Ford Escape going to the winner. For more information, go to indywrestlingroom.org.

DII-A East/Middle District 2 announces football awards

Coaches from Division II-A East/Middle Region District 2 – comprised of Battle Ground Academy, Davidson Academy, Franklin Road Academy and Zion Christian – announced their all-district football team Sunday.

Superlatives went to BGA’s Clay Beathard (most valuable player), BGA’s Ronald Cleveland (offensive MVP), FRA’s Keeling Hunter (defensive MVP), Davidson’s Kyle Gilbert (special teams MVP) and Davidson’s Jonathan Quinn (coach of the year).

All-district selections were:

BGA – Harm Abbott, Trevor Auerbach, Rieves Berry, Marcus Cawthorne, Cole Grosvenor, Zack Hardiman, Myles Taylor, Patrick Wells;

Davidson – Jackson Broadwell, Hayden Hollingsworth, Ian Kane, Dakota Quinn;

FRA – Alex Chase, Thomas Fortune, Ben Jackson, Spence Jones, Tripp Waller, Chad Young;

Zion – Julian Craig, Jarrett DeLozier, Hunter James.

Honorable mention selections were: Hal Abbott, Eric Olson, Terrell Webster (BGA); Zach Jacobs, Easton Litton, Caleb Russell (Davidson); Walker Casey, Sam Wheeler, Larry Wilhoite (FRA); Max Melton, Jonquil Murray, Will Palmer (Zion).

All-academic honors went to BGA’s Miller Inman and Harris Jones, Davidson’s Kyle Gilbert and Tyler Starling, FRA’s Murphey Chambliss and Seth Walker, and Zion’s Jarrett DeLozier and Noah Melikian.