Tag Archives: Jeff Brothers

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.”

TSSAA mulls giving private schools a league of their own

Originally published in the June 22 issue of The Contributor.

There’s throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and there’s blowing up the tub.

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, which governs athletics for the large majority of the state’s high schools, met earlier this month to discuss possibly separating private schools from public schools for competition purposes. The Legislative Council, a nine-member group that would be ultimately responsible for this decision, is set to meet again on July 16 and will likely vote on the topic at that time.

Prior to the 1997-98 school year, the TSSAA created a second division – Division II — for independent schools that offer need-based financial aid for its student-athletes. Since then, private schools have been allowed to continue playing in Division I as long as their student-athletes do not receive need-based financial aid. Those private schools have subsequently been subjected to an enrollment multiplier (currently 1.8) for classification purposes.

A total of 24 private schools statewide compete in Division I. Those are the schools that would be most directly affected by next month’s decision. Eight of those schools are located in the Nashville/Middle Tennessee area.

And while much of the conjecture for a complete public/private split centers around creating ‘a level playing field’, the hue and cry is overwhelmingly related to state championships – the opportunity to play for and win them.

“As a former athlete and coach, I’d say I wanted to play the best,” said Bernard Childress, executive director of the TSSAA. “If we couldn’t beat the best, we knew we had some work to do – go back to the drawing board, practice harder and get better.

“I think if we polled (current student-athletes), they’d say the same thing: We want to play the best, and if we can’t beat them, we’ll get better.”

Locally, there are two sides to the coin. Christ Presbyterian Academy, Goodpasture and Lipscomb Academy (formerly David Lipscomb High School) have combined for 70 state titles in their respective existences, 52 in Division I since the formation of Division II. However, Clarksville Academy (boys basketball, 2010), Columbia Academy (baseball, 1994), Nashville Christian and Middle Tennessee Christian have won just two crowns between them, one since 1997-98, and Franklin’s Grace Christian Academy will begin its first year as a member of the TSSAA this fall.

“Nashville Christian has never won a team state championship in anything,” said Jeff Brothers, entering his sixth year as football coach and athletics director at the school. “We’ve been more successful recently, but are we too hot to handle?

“I think there’s a lot of kneejerk reaction to 10 percent of the people making 90 percent of the noise. Football and basketball (are) driving the decision, to give more people opportunities to win championships. The effect goes further than who makes the football playoffs.”

More to the point, those schools don’t do business the same way as DII stalwarts Brentwood Academy, Ensworth and the Montgomery Bell Academy. And should the split actually occur, how they do business will change.

“Schools that don’t have the large budgets, like us, how do they take care of the minor sports,” wondered Brothers, who coached at Pope John Paul II prior to his arrival at Nashville Christian and played at Brentwood Academy before earning all-Southeastern Conference honors as a defensive back at Vanderbilt.

And before saying ‘that’s their problem’, be careful — because how they do business could impact how the public schools remaining in Division I do business as well.

“History says they’re going to table it (in July), consider all the options and do more research, but I think they’re amping up to make a decision,” he said. “If I’m them, I’m concerned the independent (private) schools draft their own constitution and make their own association.”

Even if a total separation spurs an all-private school league, Brothers doesn’t anticipate a rampant raid by private schools on the top public-school athletes as a result, even if some onlookers see that worse-case scenario as a possibility.

“I’d hesitate to say it’s going to be a free-for-all,” he said. “I’d think in our own organization, we’d recognize the budget limitations for a Nashville Christian, a Donelson Christian, a Mt. Juliet Christian. This isn’t an Ensworth/Brentwood Academy issue. I think if we govern ourselves, I don’t believe it would be recruiting open season. There’s more to it than the surface ‘who gets the best players’.

“We’re going to play where they tell us to. But we may be playing in our own league, our own association.”

Mo’s Four-Down Territory …

Four teams are already Cookeville-bound … Another dozen will punch their tickets this weekend … Here’s a few to watch …

First-and-10: As a quarterback, you’ve had a pretty good night when your yards per completion and yards per attempt are the same number. You’ve had a great night when that number is 26.1. Pearl-Cohn’s Jimmy Ferrell went 15-for-15 for 391 yards and five touchdowns in the second-seeded Firebirds’ 79-36 Class 4A quarterfinal win over No. 4 seed White House.

It was the best performance of the year for the junior, but a continuation of his postseason play. Ferrell has completed 29 of 31 passes in three playoff games for 743 yards, nine TDs and no interceptions – giving him 2,289 yards, 32 TDs and five pickoffs with a 71.3 completion percentage the season and six straight games without a pick. “He’s been doing a good job; he’s come a long way,” said Tony Brunetti, whose 11-2 team travels to 12-1 Trezevant this weekend. “The biggest thing is he’s taking his time and being more patient.”

Ferrell’s progress makes RB KeShawn Vaughn (2,525 rushing yards, 44 TDs) even more dangerous. “You can’t just load up the box on us anymore,” Brunetti said. “In the past, you could do that. We’re a different team.”

Second-and-5: After a pair of defeat on the big stage to its crosstown rival, Oakland exacted some get-back with last week’s 20-9 6A quarterfinal win at Blackman. The second-seeded Patriots (12-1) had their 2013 season end with a 17-3 quarterfinal loss to Blackman, then opened this campaign with a 28-21 nationally televised loss to the Blaze.

Oakland held the hosts scoreless in the second half, and Blackman’s nine points were 33 less than its average coming into the contest. “We played up to our potential defensively, which we didn’t do the first time we played them,” coach Thomas McDaniel said. “The first time, we didn’t protect the football, and this time we did.”

With the win, the Patriots advance to a semifinal matchup with undefeated defending state champion Maryville (13-0) – and they’ll take on the Rebels without senior LB Kevin Prather, who was ejected early in the Blackman game after being whistled for two unsportsmanlike conduct infractions. “That’s not going to be an issue or an excuse,” McDaniel said. “We didn’t let it affect us (against Blackman). He made a mistake, and Dexter Hurd stepped up tremendously.”

Third-and-short: Maryville is among six 2013 titlists whose hopes of back-to-back crowns are still intact. The only Middle Tennesssee team still chasing a repeat, though, is Ensworth – which will play for its fifth straight Division II-AA championship after defeating Memphis University School 27-24 last week. Both Trousdale County (2A) and Henry County (5A) were eliminated in the quarterfinals, losing on the road – Trousdale falling 41-20 at Marion County, Henry County dropping a 48-16 decision at Ridgeway.

Fourth-and-inches: Next weekend could be a busy one for the McGraw family. With Ensworth – featuring Alabama commitment Rico McGraw – already headed to Cookeville for the Division II-AA title game, younger brother Mareio could also be playing in the BlueCross Bowl as Nashville Christian (12-0) travels to defending 1A champion Union City (12-0) in this week’s semifinal.

“He’s a pretty special player,” NCS coach Jeff Brothers said of Mareio, a junior who sat out his sophomore season after transferring from Ensworth. “He’s been under the radar a little.” Splitting time at tailback with classmates Blake Barfield and Daniel Bituli, Mareio has rushed for a team-leading 782 yards with nine TDs. Over the last three weeks, he has 431 rushing yards with five scores. “He’s our shutdown cornerback. We’ve been able to rest him on offense, but he’s shown the most explosiveness and speed, and he’s come on of late to be a home run-type guy for us.”