Best Sellers’ List 2017
By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The summer is officially here and it’s time for The Millington Star to pay tribute to the TSSAA year that was.
2016-17 was filled with greatness from the field to the court. From the kitchen to the classroom. And over the next four weeks The Genuine Article will place the spotlight on the best moments, Who’s Who among the area seniors and of course the top meals I enjoyed.
So let’s start with the annual Best Sellers’ List focusing on my Top 10 moments related to sports with Tipton-Rosemark Academy, Brighton, Munford and Millington.
10. Hood is Good
MURFREESBORO – The name Andreanna Hood echoed over the loud speaker in the Middle Tennessee State University Track Stadium last month.
Not bad for a freshman. The Brighton ninth grader known throughout the program as Anna reached the podium earning sixth place in the Class 3A State Shot Put with a through slightly under 38-feet, 4 inches.
Her personal record in the Shot Put was good enough for a medal. But in the Class 3A State Discus Hood’s PR of 102 feet was ninth place, just missing out on a medal.
While her day in Murfreesboro ended better than expected, Hood’s morning started with a scare when her shot put didn’t meet the weight requirement.
“When she heard that, she about burst into tears,” Brighton Girls Track Coach Courtney McGinnis said. “She responded and goes up there hitting a PR.”
Brentwood’s Katherine Coffey won the event with a toss more than 42 feet. But Cocke County’s Dynah Dunn won the hearts of McGinnis and Hood.
“The girl from Cocke told Anna you can use my shot put,” McGinnis recalled. “She told Anna it wouldn’t be a problem to share.”
The generosity of Dunn allowed Hood to hit a new personal best and reach the medal stand in her first event at State.
“She’s just a competitor,” McGinnis said. “With her maturity she’ll be one of the best.”
9. Miller light…on his feet
MURFREESBORO – Walter Miller arrived to Murfreesboro in May already one of the most decorated track athletes in Millington Trojan history.
With several medals from competitive track on his resume’ and two silver medals from the 2016 Class A-AA State Track Meet, Miller was looking for gravy on his legacy.
His agenda Friday in the Dean A. Hayes Stadium on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University were the 200m, 400m and 4x400m relay races. Miller helped a group of young Trojans (Eddie Macklin, Corey Smith and Zach Johnson) take fifth in the 4x400m relay with a time of 3:23.53.
Being a part of the fastest relay time of the season concluded Miller’s Millington track career that evening. His first event of the day was the 400m, the event he finished second in last season. Miller’s 2017 result was third.
“I came out tight,” he acknowledged. “I wasn’t loose. I have to come out better and work harder in the 200.”
Miller went and properly prepared for his final individual race as a Trojans. He came out for the 200m blazing around the track finishing second with a time of 22.19 behind Maplewood’s Jeremy McDowell.
“My legacy, I feel good,” Miller said after the 200m. “I feel blessed. I get help from God. My Dad is looking down on me. So I feel good with all my coaches and stuff.
8. TRA Soccer History
When a program is young and growing, there will be dates that will go down in history.
For the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebel Soccer program, the latest milestone occurred May 8 against the FACS Crusaders. Going into extra time tied at 1-1, the historic postseason victory came courtesy of winning the shootout 3-1.
“It was amazing,” TRA Head Coach Pete Gutierrez said. “We’re a growing program. And I am new to the school as a coach. The win was an amazing win for them in many cases. Obviously because it was an ego booster coming into this game.
“To pull that off after having several years of growing and trying to build a soccer team,” he continued, “I believe we’re starting to do that. It was an amazing win and an amazing milestone for the school history for now on.”
The victory earned the Rebels a May 9 match up against one of the best teams in Tennessee, the Lausanne Lynx. The Lausanne players proved their 13-1-2 record was no mirage beating TRA 8-0 to advance.
TRA goalie Jake Massey had a few brilliant saves against the Lynx, but Lausanne controlled the tempo and possession getting enough shots off to jump ahead 4-0 by halftime. Lausanne added 4 more goals in the second half to win.
Gutierrez said he was proud of his team’s effort against Lausanne. The effort the day before resulted in victory.
After 80 minutes and the overtimes, the Rebels vs. Crusaders playoff game came down to a shootout. The penalty-kick format would give both teams 5 chances at the goal.
Massey was put on center stage to help his team survive and advance.
7. Brighton vs. Henry County… Classic
November is when stories of gridiron glory are written.
Legends are born and plays that will live on forever are created. In Brighton Friday night, the names Malik Jackson, Nick Johnson and Andre Golden joined the Pantheon of Cardinals on one play.
The combination collaborated on a double-pass late in the fourth quarter against Henry County to help force overtime in the first round playoff contest. But it was Henry County who survived 41-40 in overtime to advance to write another chapter in this year’s Class 5A Football Playoffs.
“It was just a double pass,” Brighton Head Coach Robin Jacobs said. “It was a freshman who threw it. We’ve run it probably 10 times this year and hit a touchdown each time on it. At the end of the game they were trying to run the clock out. We were trying to conserve our timeouts. It worked like we need to and we ended up getting the ball back. We hit the one play, the long one and we got the two points.”
The journey of 81 points entertained and thrilled those in attendance in the Brighton Football Stadium.
6. Cross’ is 43 forever
He has worn many numbers and played many roles in his football career.
These days Alan Cross in No. 45 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Before he lined up recently to play the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football, Cross sported the black and gold of the Millington Trojans.
Friday night friends, family, coaches and Cross’ fans made their way to Mooney Boswell Field to celebrate the Millington Central High School administration retiring of Cross’ No. 43.
Now Cross joins other Trojan Football greats Marlon Barnes (20), Tyrone Calico (33) and Ahmaad Galloway (22) as retired jerseys of Millington players to reach the NFL. Dana Payne’s No. 87 and Mario Reed’s No. 29 are also retired numbers at MCHS.
Other members of the exclusive club Cross joined Friday night are Trojan Basketball greats Jasmine Newsome (22) and Tony Dumas (23).
“It’s a great feeling to always come back here and see the program still kicking,” Cross said. “Obviously it still hasn’t hit me. You see guys like Calico and Ahmaad. You see those jerseys in the high school and you’re like, ‘That’s pretty cool.’ Now they’re like, ‘We’re retiring your jersey.’ ‘My jersey is going to be right beside their jerseys?’ That’s pretty cool.”
5. Lady Cougar Soccer breaking records
The last week of September was going historically well for the Munford Lady Cougar Soccer program.
Earlier in the month the team set a record with 12 goals in a game in a win over Dyer County. Then the Lady Cougars beat Tipton County rival the Covington Lady Chargers 7-3.
So before area rival the Millington Lady Trojans arrived to the Munford Stadium for last Thursday’s showdown, Munford Head Coach Dylan Burnett received the news his team was in the area ranking.
Munford made sure the week concluded on a high note beating Millington 10-0.
“Yeah, it’s fun getting all of our girls into the game,” Burnett said. “I’ve had girls who maybe played 5 games scoring. That’s good and that fun giving experience to the younger girls. But they have to understand that’s the last type of game we’re going to get. That’s the last one.
“We have Brighton and they’re coming for our heads,” he continued. “We have St. Benedict, they’re coming for our head. District champions, Region Semis, then finals, we have all these things.”
Before starting the postseason, the Munford Lady Cougars wrapped up the regular season with a pair of victories to improve to 14-3-1. The 14 wins are the best in Lady Cougar history.
Dylan Burnett’s Lady Cougars beat St. Benedict 1-0 last Thursday. Prior to that contest, Munford finished with a perfect league record Oct. 4 beating rival Brighton 7-0.
4. Jones wraps up legendary golf career
The Brighton High School Girls’ Golf team coached by Kim Greer took first place in the TSSAA Division I Region 7-3A Golf Tournament held at the Pickwick Landing Golf Course this past fall with a team score of 160.
Brighton senior, Aubree Jones posted a 67 and was the low medalist for the Region tournament and junior Tess Hendrickson finished second medalist shooting a 93 at Region.
“It was two really beautiful days to play golf,” Greer said. “The course was in great shape and the Hardin County golf team always does a great job coordinating the tournament with the PLGC head pro and staff.
In boys’ Regional action, Brighton junior Brett Wilkins fired a 78 playing as an individual and will also represent BHS at next week’s TSSAA Divsion I State Tournament.
Senior Aubree Jones will be playing in her final TSSAA Division I State Tournament and junior Tess Hendrickson her third straight. Jones will bring in a personal record of two first place individual wins (as a freshman and sophomore) and one second place finish last season.
Jones is the TGA third ranked junior female golfer in the state of Tennessee and future Mississippi State Bulldog. Jones finished second individually at State to conclude her prep career with two State championships and a pair of runner up finishes.
3. Lady Rebels reach Sub-State
The challenge for Wendy Porter’s Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels back in September was to outplay the TRA Lady Rebels.
As the Immaculate Conception Lady Wildcats came to town, Porter wanted her team to take the TRA Gymnasium court focused on improving and playing at their level.
“Sometimes, we don’t always play our best,” she acknowledged. “That was our challenge tonight to play our best. I feel like for one of the first times ever, they came out and did that.
“Looking at past seasons and how we did with different levels of competitions, they brought their A-game tonight for the most part,” Porter added. “We were a little rusty there on serves at one part. We then picked it back up.”
The Lady Rebels answered Porter’s challenge and played consistent enough to win 25-10, 25-8 and 25-5 over the Lady Wildcats.
“We’ve started off pretty strong,” Porter said. “We’ve only loss outside of tournaments once. We’re 7-1. We’ve got some talent out there. They’re moving a lot better. They’re starting to mesh as a team. It started off pretty good as a team. We haven’t had any problems with that. It’s just getting them to swing those arms a little faster.”
The Lady Rebels kept growing and developing behind the senior leadership of Rachel Woelm and Joze Smith. And TRA reached Sub-State making school history for volleyball.
2. Brighton Basketball to Sub-State
May 13, 2014 marked the beginning of a new era in Brighton.
Stan Gatlin arrived on the campus of Brighton High School dressed for success. In his argyle sweater vest and khakis, Gatlin sported his new school’s colors with his wife Demeka and son Taelyr by his side.
Gatlin had a section of the bleachers in the Brighton Gymnasium filled with potential Cardinal Basketball players. That day he promised the young men in the stands Brighton Basketball will reach new heights never seen before.
Tonight those words came to fruition in the same location they were uttered. When Gatlin’s junior forward Aaron Alston received a pass from senior guard Ethan Bell, Alston made the layup to give Brighton a 64-63 lead over the Bolton Wildcats.
Bolton had one more shot with 2.7 seconds remaining in the Region 7-3A Tournament Semifinal contest. When the Wildcats missed a three-point shot at the buzzer, the Brighton Gymnasium erupted and Gatlin pumped his fist in the air in victory.
“It’s just a big moment for Brighton High School, Brighton Basketball,” Alston said. “The boys’ team has never been this far. We just wanted to come out here and make history.”
The Cardinals made history with the 64-63 win. Brighton advances to that Thursday night’s Region 7-3A championship game for the first time against Cordova. The Bolton victory also guaranteed Brighton’s first appearance in Sub-State which was played at Memphis East the following Monday.
1. Cougar Baseball back to State
All that stood in the way of the Munford Cougars ending their 13 year State Baseball Tournament drought were the Collierville Dragons.
In a season of progress, Munford Skipper Scotty Yount knew his pitching would be fine in the Sub-State match-up with Corey “CSmooth” Simmons on the mound. Yount was pretty sure his defense would navigate the Munford Baseball Field well against the Dragons.
But the only question mark, offense, was put to rest early when the Cougars offense came out swing to put two runs on the scoreboard in the first inning.
Munford added 4 insurance runs in the fifth inning May 19. Then the defense and Simmons shutdown the Collierville bats to win 6-0 and help Munford earn its first trip back to the Class 3A State Baseball Tournament since 2004.
“Unbelievable,” Yount said. “I knew if we had the heart. We had the talent. Throughout the year we just kept getting better and better and better and better. We just hit a stride and it was like we wouldn’t be denied. We set this goal. I never told anybody this and we kept it between ourselves. We set this goal in March. The goal was to get to Murfreesboro. And we did it man. We did it and in my first year.”
The road to Sub-State was paved with the Cougars taking second in the District 13-3A Baseball Tournament. Then Monday came with Munford pulling off an upset on the road at Arlington 2-1.
That set up a rematch with the District 13-3A champions Dyer County Choctaws. In extra inning, the Cougars came back from Wednesday’s showdown 6-5 victors.
The Regional championship earned Munford home game against the Region 8-3A runner up Dragons.
“We’ve really focused on our approach at the plate starting before the district tournament,” Yount recalled. “I never thought during the year we were where we needed to be at the plate. On the mound, we learned throughout the year we had the arms to do what we wanted to do. We learned we had the defense behind the arms.
“We never were at the plate the way we needed to be,” he continued. “I shuffled the lineup a little bit. We really went to work on approach at the plate and executing. Today was the best they’ve ever been. We had good approaches at the plate all day.”