That means it’s time for The Genuine Article to take a four-week look back at the TSSAA sports calendar of 2015-16. The Millington Star travels short and far to cover the area’s big sports stories and events.
This past year was special because the coverage area had its share of standout athletes, amazing moments and the spotlight. From the sights and sounds surrounding the sports to the food that we all enjoyed, let’s start the retrospective of the sports year. As usual, The Genuine Article kicks off with The Best Sellers’ List.
10. Band of Brothers
The 2016 campaign has been worthy of a novel for the Millington Trojan Soccer team.
The record finished at 6 wins, 5 defeats and 4 deadlocks. Head Coach Larry Dagen and Assistant Coach Andy Dupree had to navigate their players through a season of change, pains and future gains.
The future looks bright with young players like Kyle Strange and Antonio Roddy racing up the edges of the field. Even the underclassmen endured some injuries and setbacks.
But the hardest hit group by the injury bug appeared to be the seniors. Dagen’s determined and battle-tested 12th graders were still nursing aches when Jackson North Side arrived to the USA Stadium Soccer Field May 9 for the first round District 15-2A contest.
“Austin comes out here today after getting back to us missing the beginning of the season and turns his ankle,” Dagen said. “It’s just been that type of year for him and us. Ethan was not 100 percent and Jake has been hurt. But my boys gave their all today.”
After falling behind quickly and trailing 3-1 at halftime, the Trojans rallied with defense and two goals in the second half to force overtime. But the Indians prevailed 6-3 in extra time to advance and end the season for the Trojans.
9. Young Wings Take Flight
Behind the pitching of sophomore Brett Wilkins, the defense of players like Chase Kidd and Eli Davis and a big second inning of offense, the Brighton Cardinals clinch the 2016 District 13-3A regular-season championship April 18.
Head Coach Michael Wickersham witnessed all those elements coming together Monday night on the Brighton Baseball Field leading to an 8-4 victory over rival the Munford Cougars. Standing on his home field as the newly crowned district champs had Coach Wick all smiles.
“If you would have asked me earlier that in the year, I would have giggled and chuckled saying ‘I hope we’ll be there,” Wickersham acknowledged. “I thought we were one year away being so young. But these guys kept believing. When they play as a team as they did tonight, we can play against anybody. They showed it tonight.”
8. Cougars’ Town
The host Munford Cougars got off to a hot start in the 2016 District 13-3A Baseball Tournament Friday night with 4 runs in the first innings. Jake Garbuzinski’s crew used those runs to prevail 4-1 over the Dyer County Choctaws in first round action. The Cougars advanced to play the No. 1 seeded Brighton Cardinals Saturday. Munford outlasted the Cardinals 9-4 to advance to the championship round and lock up a spot in Regionals later this month. Dusty Baker improved to 6-1 on the season with the win over the Cardinals. LaDarius “Dee” Williams hit his seventh homer of the season. After losing game one of the championship Monday night, the Cougars bounced back to claim the 2016 title over the Dyer County Choctaws 9-2 Tuesday night.
7. On Track in Millington
Millington Middle School and Aliyah Williamson are prominent members of the TMSAA Track history book.
On May 21, the Stallion Track program led by Head Coach T. Taylor and assistant coaches Linda Miller, Jennifer Gallo and Dennis Alexander led seven athletes to the first State Middle Track Meet.
“The Tennessee Middle School Athletic Association put on a marvelous event in Clarksville at Austin Peay State University,” Taylor said. “The stadium was packed. A lot of schools there. I think 23 schools in Division A and 22 schools in Division 2A. It as kind of an overcast, semi-cool day. It was just right for running track.”
The seven Stallions in Clarksville brought back 9 medals to Flag City with Aliyah Williamson winning gold in the 1600m and 800m. Millington also won two bronze medals with Devonte Nelson in the 200m and Adrian Dowell in 800m.
“I’m especially proud of Aliyah,” Taylor said. “But it was an overall team effort. Everybody supported everybody, whether they were running events with her or not, they were always cheering her on. Aliyah has a solid work attitude. She goes to practice and does what she needs to do. Never complains and just a solid work ethic. And it showed our there on the track last Saturday.”
IN OTHER NEWS: Millington Trojan junior Walter Miller brought home two medals from Murfreesboro on May 27. He participated in the Class A-AA 200m and 400m events. He took the silver medal in the 200m and finished fourth in the 400m. His time in the 400m was 50.43 with Stratford’s TreVon Sanders winning the event in a time of 48.65. In the 200m race, the winner was Jeremy McDowell from Maplewood outlasting Miller 21.50 to 21.73 at the Middle Tennessee State University finish line.
6. Flying Back to State
For the first time since 2010, the Brighton Lady Cardinals are heading back to the Class 3A State Softball Tournament.
With a dominating 15-0 win over the Houston Lady Mustangs in this afternoon’s Sub-State contest, Head Coach Robin Jacob’s Lady Cardinals have earned a spot in the final eight in next week’s State Tournament.
“Whoever we got today was going to get both barrels,” Jacobs said. “They were going to get our best. It did bother them a lot. It bothered Seeley. It bothered my juniors. We didn’t get to finish that game. We felt we could have won. If it hadn’t been 4-3 with a batter on base. We felt we had a chance. We’re just proud we had a chance to get back and be one of the Elite Eight teams again.”
Back in 2010, All-State pitcher Leanna Coulston sparked her Brighton team to State. In similar fashion, Seeley Layne was the leader in the pitching circle for the 2016 squad.
Layne won her 26th game of the season and 63rd in her career striking out several Houston batters. Layne’s win puts her one behind Coultson’s all-time school record.
5. M&M Bowled Over
Since the 2015 M&M Bowl, all the talk and headlines in Munford were about the return of the M&M Bowl trophy to Cougar Town.
And names like Jacob Ross, Anthony Boley, Wilson Lowry, Michael Pugh and Dakota Hope dominated most of the post game discussions from Tipton County to Flag City.
Although the Munford skill position players contributed to the 41-18 victory over the Millington Trojans in the 2015 M&M Bowl, Cougar quarterback Ross said the real heroes of the night were the five young men on the offensive line: Josh Enger, Jesse Maley, Tyler Cody, Christian Brooks and Aaron Sykes.
“Our linemen were amazing tonight,” he said. “They got on their re-keys and their blocks. I just ran the offense and our backs made them (the Trojans) pay.
“Our defense stopped them when they needed to,” Ross added. “They got us the ball where we wanted. It all just worked out for us tonight.”
4. League of Their Own
The third time was the charm for the Millington Lady Trojans against the Covington Lady Chargers.
And Millington’s victory came just in time to claim the 2015 District 15-2A Volleyball Tournament title in Jackson. The Lady Trojans swept the Lady Chargers in three sets win the championship.
During the regular season, Covington beat Millington in the first match up. The rematch was a five-set thriller going the way of the Lady Chargers.
Last night, Millington Head Coach Jenna Harper sent a group of determined Lady Trojans to the Jackson North Side court focused on reaching the goal of earning a banner for the William Osteen Gymnasium wall.
Lady Trojans to make the All-Tournament team were Addison Coulter, Ally Hall and Autumn Taylor. The tournament MVP was Millington senior Ashley Freeze.
Freeze was also named to the regular season All-District team along with teammates Paige hall and Coulter. Harper was named Coach of the Year.
3. Bank’s Shot
The Munford Lady Cougars have been trying to reclaim the District 13-3A championship for two years.
The golden plaque is finally coming back to Tipton County after spending the past couple of years in Dyer County. The Lady Cougars used a fourth-quarter floater in the lane from De’Asha Banks to beat the defending champs Dyer County Lady Choctaws 32-31 in the Brighton Gymnasium for the 2016 District 13-3A Girls Tournament title.
Banks was named to the All-Tournament team along with teammates Shania Johnson, Gabby Crawford and MVP Johnna Jones.
The regular-season District 13-3A MVP Crawford was held to a pair of free throws tonight. The Lady Choctaws defense held Munford to 22 points after three quarter.
The Lady Cougars had to overcome a 29-22 deficit entering the fourth period. Munford’s Dejanae Potter helped cut into the Dyer County lead going 4 of 4 from the free throw line.
After Dyer County made the score 31-26, Jones made a most-valuable player move with a reverse layup to make the score 31-28.
With less than 2 minutes remaining in the game, Banks made her first clutch shot with a put-back bucket to make the deficit a point.
After a couple of timeouts from 2016 District 13-3A Coach of the Year Steve Poindexter, the Lady Cougars set up a play to get the ball into Crawford’s hands.
The sophomore standout located Banks. The forward drove into the lane and release a floater over a couple of orange jerseys for the basket with 19.4 left on the Brighton Gymnasium scoreboard.
2. The Interception Heard Around Tipton County
The Munford Cougars have traveled the road the 2015 Brighton Cardinals are currently navigating.
In 2014 the Cougars just kept winning and surprising opponents having a chance to win the District 13-3A title in the final week of the regular season. Entering this campaign some experts expected a solid record from the 2015 Cougars — maybe not unbeaten after eight games.
As for their rivals five minutes up the road in Brighton, 2014 was a humbling year for the Cardinals. Robin Jacobs’ flock missed the playoffs and suffered a losing record.
When the Cardinals took to the Brighton Football Stadium field last Friday in front of a packed house, they had the chance to upset their undefeated rivals and claim a share of first place in the Region.
In thrilling fashion, Brighton was able to pull out a 24-20 victory and continue its renaissance season.
“We were 2-8 last year and now we’re 8-1,” Jacobs said. “Nobody gave us a chance coming into this season and coming into tonight. And they (the Cougars) didn’t give it to us at all.”
Early in the fourth quarter Munford’s Garrett Baugh raced over to pick off a Brighton pass giving the Cougars the ball on 37-yard line.
Moments later Munford gave the ball right back to Brighton with a fumble. The Cougars didn’t panic with Marcus Webb intercepting the ball for Munford.
That set the table for the biggest turnover of the night. On a deep ball thrown by the Cougars, Brighton’s Deavius Terry extended his arms and gathered in the over thrown pass. Terry raced up field behind blockers before being tackled at the 10-yard line.
With 8 minutes and 3 seconds remaining, Jackson threw his second touchdown of the game hitting slot receiver Austin Kelley for the 7-yard score to make the tally 20-17.
The Cardinal defense forced a Munford punt with 5 minutes and 43 seconds left in the game. Brighton Head Coach Robin Jacobs employed his offense to run the ball with the drive starting 61 yards away from the end zone.
“They had to throw it and we had to run it,” he said. “Sort of the opposite. We get Dee’s big interception and he almost runs it back. That turned it around for us.
The duo of Mathews and Zach Camp followed the orders of the Brighton coaching staff running the ball for four first downs. With less than 2 minutes remaining, Mathews had the honors of taking the ball into the end zone from 3 yards out to give Brighton the 24-20 lead.
1. For Lauren
The traditional school colors for Tipton-Rosemark Academy are red, white and blue.
But for one night, the school adopted new colors in honor of student Lauren Moody for fighting Osteosarcoma. A member of the TRA Lady Rebel Volleyball team, Moody was diagnosed in May with the form of cancer.
Now receiving treatments at the Campbell Clinic and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Moody has been supporting her teammates from a distance. On Sept. 28, the sophomore’s peers had a chance to raise recognition for her battle and pay tribute to Moody with a three-set win over Munford.
TRA closed out the visiting Lady Cougars 25-8 in the final set. After the victory, some of the visitors to the TRA Gymnasium asked the winning players why the unique uniforms.
“It’s for Gold Out Night,” TRA Volleyball player Rachel Woelm noted. “One of our teammates got cancer and she wasn’t able to play this year. Gold is the color that represents childhood cancer. And purple is the color the type of cancer she has.”
With October being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Woelm said wearing the special jerseys and playing an area rival motivated the Lady Rebels.
MEMPHIS — Times have been tough for the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels lately on and off the court.
On the court, the Lady Rebels had to prepare for a game Jan. 5 against the Westminster Lady Defenders without senior standout Ally Naifeh. Before that game at Westminster, the TRA players endured an emotional stretch with the passing of teammate and friend Lauren Moody on Dec. 30.
“It’s been a tough week for us with the lost of Lauren,” TRA Head Coach Keith Cox said. “Everyone is still reeling from that.
“Then after that tragedy, Ally got hurt Sunday just playing basketball,” he continued. “You can’t be too upset about that. It has been tough so early on a lot of them were confused as far as where they were supposed to be. We kind of slept walk through the beginning.”
The Lady Defenders took advantage of the sluggish Lady Rebels leading 13-11 in the second quarter. Then Emily Fisher sparked a 10-5 run for TRA to close out the first half. The Lady Rebels kept the momentum the rest of the game to prevail 47-33.