By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Tipton-Rosemark Academy playoff tradition continued last season.
But another streak proceeded not to the liking of the Rebels. Grace Baptist Academy got the best of TRA during the first round of the Division II-A playoffs in Chattanooga.
Fast forward to the eve of the 2019 campaign, the Rebels have to endure an eight-game league schedule to continue the postseason streak. TRA Head Coach Colin Pinner will hand the ball and behind center duties to senior Tyler Byrd.
“We’re going to give it our all. We’ve got this especially putting in a new offense,” Byrd said. “We’re just going to execute our new ideas coming in.
“I’m ready for the challenge,” he added. “We’re going to try to break the ball outside more. We’ve actually put in a lot more plays to keep the other side off-balanced. We’re not just straight running anymore.”
The running priority has benefited incoming senior Mac Fullen. He is the school’s all-time leader in rushing yards and touchdowns. But having a younger offensive line, Fullen will be used at running back and wide receiver this season.
“It’s going to take a lot from the offensive linemen,” Byrd said. “Just getting them to hold onto their blocks just a little bit longer. I have to read the defense and get a little bit better each snap.
“Having the ball handed to me means everything,” he added. “I’m just going to try to do all I can. The coaches can trust me.”
The coaches trust senior lineman/linebacker JT May on defense. He earned the admiration of Pinner and staff by playing 11 games with a torn labrum.
“You got to do what you’ve got to do to help your team,” May said. “You got to make plays even if your leg is hanging off.
“I know what it’s like going through pain,” he continued. “We’ve all gone through it. I know that sacrifice for the team.”
That sacrifice has earned May interest from colleges like Arkansas State, Austin Peay and even the SEC’s Missouri.
“It’s feels good getting my name out there, the school’s name out there getting that exposure,” he said.
But May is not worried about the college choice as game one nears. He said winning will bring attention to all the Rebels in 2019. May noted a key to victory is the defense neutralizing tough opponents like Nashville Christian, Fayette Academy and Davidson Academy.
“Keep it simple by reading your keys and making tackles,” he noted. “We’ve got to have a good game plan and execute.”
Execution will be crucial against league newcomers Trinity Christian, University School of Jackson and Columbia Academy.
“The last three years we’ve loss in the first round of the playoffs,” May concluded. “So I want us to just win a playoff game while having a winning season.”