Crockett footballers continue to gain interest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Crockett’s Cade Larkins, left, and Donta Hackler, right, are continuing to catch the eye of college recruiters.

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

Recruiting interest in David Crockett quarterback Cade Larkins and receiver Donta Hackler is heating up with summer’s arrival.

The Pioneers made an unprecedented run to the quarterfinals last season, and Hackler and Larkins were arguably the two biggest factors.

The 6-foot-3 Hackler has offers from Tulane, Liberty, Eastern Kentucky, UT-San Antonio. Larkins has been offered by East Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, Campbell and, most recently, Chattanooga on Saturday.

Hackler has been to camps at Kentucky and Virginia Tech. Larkins has also been to Blacksburg, as well as Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State.

“Cade and Donta are staying busy with visits and going to various camps,” Crockett second-year coach Hayden Chandley said Monday night. “Things are really starting to pick up for those guys, and there’ll be more to come, I’m sure, on into summer and once the season starts. We’re excited for those guys and making sure they stay patient through the process and don’t rush any kind of decision, because it’s still early in the process.”

The 6-foot-2 Larkins has gotten faster in the past year. Chandley said the strong-armed senior with the quick release is running the 40 in the 4.8-4.9 range.

“Cade is probably 5-10 pounds lighter than he was this time last year,” Chandley said. “He’s really taking his diet seriously. Ever since the season ended, really, he’s worked hard to stay in shape and shave maybe a little bit of that baby fat off. He looks good, runs extremely well to be as big as he is and playing the quarterback position.

“People don’t realize how strong he is. He’s definitely gotten faster. I think he’s gonna be improved in that area, and it’s gonna do nothing but improve his stock.”

Hackler is fast and long, and he leaps well. He was often double-teamed last season, a task he figures to face almost constantly this coming season.

The addition of 6-foot-3 Mason Britton to the program could eventually help keep defenses more honest.

“It helps when you add one that’s 6-foot-3 on the outside,” Chandley said. “If everything works out the way we’ve planned for it to, we’ll start 6-3 on the outside on both sides at either receiver and Prince (Kollie) will play some slot (receiver) and some running back. So we’ll have a chance to have two 6-3 receivers and a 6-2 receiver in the starting lineup. There’s some colleges that don’t even have that. So we feel extremely fortunate to have those three on our side and a pretty good one back there throwing them the ball, too.”

Kollie, a rising junior that also plays defensive back, will spearhead a defense that graduated eight starters, including his brother, John, and fellow linebacker Mark Seidler.

“There won’t be many opportunities for him to rest,” Chandley said. “Prince really came on toward the end of the year on the defensive side of the ball. I coach the secondary and it was pretty neat to just watch him evolve and really come into his own there late in the year. In one of our last regular season games, he had two picks against Cherokee, and he had a pick against Knox Central in the playoff (quarterfinal) game. He played really, really well – maybe his best game was against Tennessee High there in the second round of the playoffs. It really started to click for him.”

Chandley has been encouraged by his players’ collective offseason work. The TSSAA’s mandatory two-week “dead” period begins next week.

“We feel good with where we’re at,” Chandley said. “We’ve made good strides in the weight room. We’ve gotta hit it hard this last week before dead period.

“I don’t like it (dead period). It’s a situation where the kids get two weeks off, but you build up all this strength and then it’s basically in the kids’ hands whether they work hard for those two weeks or sit on the couch and eat potato chips for two weeks. We’ve challenged our kids to continue to work hard during that time off. We’ll max again here in two or three weeks when we get back from dead period.

“I think we have a chance to be deeper than we were last year. We’ve got some young guys that haven’t gotten a lot of playing time that we’re gonna have to count on. But they’ve made good strides in the weight room, and hopefully that translates to the field as well.”

Lamar runners compete at state meet

Pictured from left to right: (front row) Breanna Dunn, Annabelle Stephens, Elizabeth Wheeley, Gideon Erwin; (second row) Coach Elizabeth Hicks, Bella Moore, Abby Whaley, Sophia Gouge, Kadence Austin, Hannah McLain, Coach Sara Murr; (third row) Austin Davis, Austin Silvers, Levi Coffie, Cale Ensor, Jedidiah Beals.

From STAFF REPORTS

The Lamar Middle School Track team traveled to Clarksville, Tennessee to participate in the State competition at Austin Peay University.

Lamar had four team members that made All-State. Those student athletes included Breanna Dunn, third in the 800 meter run breaking her own school record a third time of 2:35; Annabelle Stephens, third in the discus throw; Elizabeth Wheeley tied for fifth place alongside another Washington County contender from Grandview Middle, Zoe Sanders; and Gideon Erwin placed fifth in the 1600 meter run with a school record breaking time of 5:04.

Crockett basketball puts in the work

The girls basketball team has been hard at work at multiple camps this summer.

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

Second-year David Crockett girls basketball coach Tony Gordon is having such a good time these days that the former boys head coach didn’t blink when Crockett boys coach John Good resigned to go to Unicoi County this spring.

Gordon was an assistant under Good prior to last season. He’s been the boys head coach at University High, Morristown West and Elizabethton.

“I’ve got an unbelievable group of kids,” Gordon said. “They’ve just bought in a hundred percent. They’ve been fun to coach – so fun that I was not gonna leave them for the boys job.”

Gordon’s Pioneers returned to Furman University last week for a team camp. What a difference a year makes.

“The coaches at Furman couldn’t believe we were the same team,” Gordon said, “just from where we were last year to where we are this year. … They were ready to go to camp so they didn’t have to go against each other, because our practices are – they’re battles. There’s some kids that just don’t like to lose, and they’ll sacrifice whatever they need to sacrifice to win.”

The Pioneers return every player other than softball ace Kara Weems, including leading scorer Emma Gouge and leading rebounder Mackenzie Baldwin.

“Since we got back and had our spring practice, which was the last week of school, it’s night and day from where we’ve been,” Gordon said. “I can’t believe how far they’ve come, but I can, because I know how much work they’ve put into it and how much they want it. I’m not surprised, but as far as evaluating what we’re doing and where we’re at, I couldn’t be more pleased. …

“What sets them apart is how hard they compete. Defensively, they’ve gotten a lot better. They take pride in it. They share the ball. They have confidence and they’re really getting comfortable with our system of play.”

Two Crockett players were injured at Furman. Madison Orr suffered an apparent meniscus injury and Carlie Wilson injured a shoulder. Wilson is expected back within a week or two, but Orr won’t likely return before fall.

“Orr didn’t play a lot last year, but she is, far and above, our most improved player,” Gordon said. “She made a decision on her own to dedicate herself to basketball and she’s in the gym almost daily. She got on a travel team and she has blossomed. She’s gonna help us this year because she can shoot, she’s athletic, she’s got some length. And now she’s got some confidence on top of it. I think she’ll recover from this fairly well, but it hurts to see her go down because I know how much she’s put into it. …

“Carlie Wilson’s improved tremendously. She rebounds well, she creates space and she knows her limitations.”

Nora Walters, a rising sophomore, could be a productive addition to the roster next season.

“She’s had an outstanding offseason playing travel ball and all that,” Gordon said. “She’s always in the gym, and she gives us some length and athleticism. She’s not used to the speed of the varsity game yet, but she’ll adjust. She’s gonna be a huge asset, because she can play multiple positions. She’s basically the tallest one we’ll have (approximately 5-foot-10).”

At least a couple of freshmen could contribute right away at the varsity level.

“I think we’re gonna have a decent class coming in, but not as deep,” Gordon said. “There’s a couple I have my eye on, obviously.”

The Pioneers will also have guard Carolina Palomino next season. A good defender, Palomino sustained a season-ending injury this past season.

Crockett will also attend camps at Oak Ridge and UNC Asheville.

Ridgeview Raptors finish undefeated season

Ridgeview Elementary School’s softball team rounded out its 2019 season as an undefeated squad. In addition to a winning season, the girls also earned a division and Area 1 championship. The Raptors finished the season with a 27-0 record.

From STAFF REPORTS

The Ridgeview Lady Raptor softball team, led by Coach Lori Jenkins, wrapped up its season at the Area Tournament at Ridgeview School in Gray. The team had an impressive season going undefeated with a record of 27-0.

They clinched the Big Three Large School Division Championship as well as the Area 1 Championship.  In the area tournament, they defeated Johnson County 15-3, Vance Middle School 2-1, and Sevier Middle School 9-4 to grab the Area Title.

During conference and area tournament play, Audrey Moorhouse batted 9-19, Kyleigh Bacon was 14-22 at the plate with one home run, and Maci Masters was 12-20 at the plate with four home runs.

Pitcher Katie Sparks took the win over Vance, giving up three hits and one earned run. Kyleigh Bacon took the win over Sevier, giving up five hits and four runs.

An impressive defense was lead by Josie Jenkins, Lillie Walters, Alexandria Unick, Riley Croley, and Kenzie Bacon.

Former county coach reflects on memories

Throughout his career, Jerry Jenkins coached at Boone, Crockett and Science Hill.

By TREY WILLIAMS

For more than half a century Jerry Jenkins has been a man for all seasons in Washington County.

Jenkins played football and baseball at Science Hill (1964-67) and has coached since 1972 at Science Hill, David Crockett and Daniel Boone, where he was recognized prior to a baseball game with many former players in attendance.

Until this past season, when he helped solely with football, Jenkins had coached football, basketball and baseball every year at Boone. He’s been the head football coach at Crockett (1982-85), the head baseball coach at Boone (1994-2005) and the head girls basketball coach at Boone. He was an assistant football coach for Ken Green at Boone and under Tommy Hundley at Science Hill (while also helping Don Humston at Independence Hall Junior High), where the Hilltoppers had an undefeated regular season in 1979.

“I’m probably the only coach that’s coached at every school in Washington County (in so many sports),” Jenkins said. “I’ve been fired in football at one of the county schools and I’ve been fired in basketball – girls – at the other. And I don’t blame ‘em.”

Jenkins is liable to sell himself short. His son Jeremy is the longest-tenured football coach in Class 5A, and Jerry’s smarts, not to mention his sense of humor, have helped pave that path.

“I came over in 2004 and being able to have the opportunity to work with him was a big factor in why I came over here from Sullivan South,” Jeremy said. “He’s been there every day, every practice, every game, and there’s been a lot of good memories with him on the sideline and up in the box. I remember one call when (David Crockett coach) Hayden Chandley was playing. We were playing Morristown East and it was fourth-and-one and I asked him what to do up top (in the press box). I said, ‘What do you think?’ He didn’t say nothing. And I said, ‘What do you think?’

“And he said, ‘Son, that’s why you get paid the big bucks. I tell you, these cookies are good up here.’”

Jerry chuckled recalling such moments.

“I just like to aggravate,” he said. “In staff meetings they’ll tell me to leave. I believe in humor. Well, you can’t be cutting up and joking all the time, but you can’t be uptight all the time neither.”

Daniel Boone baseball coach Rob Hoover retired this season. He’s leaving to go into the ministry full time. He said Jerry was a godsend for Boone athletics.

“Jerry’s an incredible man,” Hoover said. “He was a guy – I didn’t have this ability – he could match his ability to be intense and be in a game, but then five seconds later crack a joke and have a humorous side. I could never do both at the same time. He balanced that and he made it fun for the kids. The kids loved him just because he kept it loose. But when it was time to get serious he could get serious. I was always kind of more on the serious side, and I wish I would’ve had some of his humor at times. …

“My first year and we were playing a tournament at Sullivan East. We were playing pretty good and won five or six in a row and we’d just beaten Greeneville. And one of our parents after the game said, ‘Hey, Jerry. Who’s our next victim?’ And Jerry said, ‘I don’t know. The team we’re playing next is pretty good, not like this bunch.’ And there was a momma from Greeneville that heard him say that. She said, ‘You’re trying to tell me we’re no good?’ He looked at her straight-faced, ‘No, mam. You’re not.’ And he just kept on walking.

“His blunt honesty was one of the funniest things about him. You couldn’t ever get mad at him, and he told you the exact truth, whether you wanted to hear it or not.”

Like Hoover, Jerry’s son Jody also went to into the ministry after a productive baseball career. His career as starting catcher for Ken Campbell at ETSU ended prematurely.

Campbell lamented the departure, having seen an All-Southern Conference future for Jody. Jerry likened Jody to Craig Biggio in terms of undersized catcher.

“I think if Jody had went on in rookie ball they would’ve eventually moved him to second base,” Jerry said. “But there wasn’t a better catcher. And where I really cheated him was that he only pitched when we were out of pitching. Heck, he was the best pitcher.”

Jerry was just as proud of Jeremy’s knowledge and productivity on the football field. Jeremy reminded his dad of current Crockett coach Hayden Chandley, who played for Jeremy at Boone.

“It was like having a coach on the field when both of ‘em played,” Jerry said.

Jerry enjoyed coaching the Chandley- and Kevin Connell-led group at Boone that defeated Science Hill, Dobyns-Bennett and Tennessee High in 2009. Boone went 10-3 and reached the quarterfinals that season thanks to players such as Matt Duncan, Blake Shropshire, Austin Reppart and Ethan Good.

“How many county teams can say they beat the Tri-Cities,” Jenkins said.

Running wild with Charlie Cole and Easton Harrell in a win at Science Hill this past season, especially for a ground-oriented “old school” coach like Jenkins, is one of his treasured memories, too. Perhaps his favorite achievement was nearly beating a powerful Jefferson County team when he was at Crockett. He said a victory was essentially erased when an interception was nullified by penalty.

“When Craig Kisabeth had those great (Jefferson County) teams and the Collins brothers who went on to play pro ball, the biggest thrill was we had them at Crockett on a Friday night and had them beat,” Jenkins said. “We intercepted a pass and they called in the grasp. Well, you’d never heard of ‘in the grasp’ then. He came up after the game and gave us the game ball. That was one of the best games I’ve ever coached in. We had the man of men, Gary Cooter.”

Jenkins said Alabama was the Crockett’s game with Greeneville to recruit a Greene Devils safety while Cooter played at Crockett.

“Alabama sent the old man that used to scout for ‘em to Jonesborough to scout,” Jenkins said. “Greeneville had a safety that was supposed to be all-world. And I told Cooter, ‘Don’t let him hurt you now.’ And Cooter said, ‘What’s his number?’ I showed him his number.

“It’s the truth. We ran what we called ‘46 Power’ and kick out the end, and there he went in the C-Gap. He could’ve cut it outside to the sideline and gone. But he was like a Brahma bull. He sort of paused and he was looking for him. And buddy, I tell you what, he cut back and he ran over him. Broke his collarbone. So the kid played one play. I felt for the kid. Cooter was one of a kind.”

Jenkins is also thankful to have worked under baseball coach Sonny Miller at Crockett.

Among the great players he’s pleased to have watched, much less coached, are Dylan Pratt and Jeremy Hall (baseball), current Boone running back Charlie Cole, Rachel Glass and Steve Fields (Science Hill’s first 1,000-yard rusher). He said Greg Kilday and Mike Kiernan were two of the best he’s seen come through Boone.

A healthy Rachel Glass was something to see. An injured one wasn’t bad either.

“She tore that knee against Sullivan East and she finished the year before she had surgery,” Jenkins said. “She finished the year. It was so fun to coach her. She was some player.

“I got to work under Travis Mains there. And he put up a (girls basketball) program that was unreal.”

Jenkins grew up in Washington County, but began attending Johnson City schools in junior high. He played baseball and football at Science Hill.

“My dad (Ralph) was my baseball influence,” he said. “Of course, every dad’s ambition was for their son to go as far as he could, and he really made me. I don’t care what they say, you can either hit or you can’t hit. If you don’t have quick hands, wrists – quick to the ball – you’re not gonna hit too good. He really made a hitter out of me.”

Transferring to city schools wasn’t easy for a teenager from the county, Jenkins said, noting he’d never played football prior to the eighth grade.

“One of the main coaches that’s ever had an influence on me is Bob May,” Jenkins said. “He was like my dad. And Wanda, his wife – they took me in, because I was from the country and that was really hard then, because it was really hard to be accepted by those kids. But it worked out.

“I didn’t play in the seventh grade but I played eighth-grade football for Bob May and Keith Lyle. And I played basketball for Coach May. And I ran track for Coach May. They didn’t have baseball then in middle school. And then I went to high school and played for Kermit Tipton. Emory Hale was my position coach. Him and Bob May had a great influence on me.”

Hale, who was Steve Spurrier’s quarterbacks coach at Science Hill, went on to win three state titles at Oak Ridge (1975, ’79, ’80) before becoming head coach at Austin Peay. His ’79 Oak Ridge team beat Science Hill 50-0 in the playoffs after Tommy Hundley’s Hilltoppers had gone undefeated during the regular season.

“In the middle of the third quarter I was at McDonald’s getting the hamburgers,” Jenkins said with a chuckle. “Tommy Hundley treated me great. I learned a lot under him. … Steve Fields was a man.”

Jenkins played baseball at Science Hill for John Broyles, who won state titles in 1947, ’62 and ’63.

“Coach John Broyles coached me as a sophomore and junior,” Jenkins said. “And he was the coach my senior year, but he got real sick and couldn’t come to a lot of the games, and Duard Aldridge coached us. There wasn’t a nicer man than Coach Broyles.”

Jenkins said he hurt his shoulder during football in ninth grade, which affected his baseball career. Broyles put him in right field as a sophomore, mindful of the cozy confines in right at Cardinal Park, and told him not to try to throw runners out at third and home.

The shoulder never felt completely right, and Jenkins consequently played second base as a junior and first base as a senior. Among the baseball teammates he mentioned playing with were Ken Jones and Charlie Bailey.

Jenkins’ shoulder didn’t deny him a role in an impressive back end of a Science Hill defense for Kermit Tipton that included Sammy “Dee Dee” Stuart, Charlie Buford and Jerry Hartsaw.

“That foursome was powerful,” said Jenkins, who also mentioned Science Hill athletes such as Biggie Carpenter and Marvin Bell as some who impressed him a great deal. “Dee Dee would kick off through the goal post. Teams always started on the 20.”

Jenkins said Carpenter briefly quit the team once, and was working as an attendant at a full-service gas station. He said Hale drove up to the pump with a wig on so Carpenter wouldn’t recognize him, and convinced him to return to the team.

“Biggie Carpenter was something else,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins also made a mark pitching for arguably the best slow-pitch softball team in the area, Clark Street Baptist. Teammates included Mike Snapp, Randy Ferrell and Joe Whitehead.

Howren Oil and Greeneville-based Buddy’s A’s also enjoyed Jenkins’ services on the softball field. Quality teammates in softball included Gary Scheuerman, Jerry Weston and Terry Dellinger.

“We had a lot of fun,” Jenkins said. “(Clark Street) was like family.”

A family atmosphere is what Jenkins has always wanted to help comprise in coaching. Connecting with players at pivotal points in their lives never gets old.

“I’ve won a lot and lost a lot,” said a chuckling Jenkins, who’s battled rheumatoid arthritis much of his life. “But I’ve always enjoyed it.”

He said he got replaced after taking the girls basketball team to the state tournament.

“It just kills you,” he said. “But I will say this: the good Lord knows best and he will work it out for the good. That’s all you can do – just say, ‘I don’t understand this. It’s in your hands, Lord.’ And he’ll take care of it. … I’ve been blessed to coach as long as I have. I coached daylight to dark (throughout) the school year, and you don’t see that much anymore.”

Jenkins has been an invaluable asset to his community and its athletes.

“Jerry can coach any sport,” Boone athletic director Danny Good said. “He has proven that over the years. There are very few coaches that can be said about. But more importantly, he has had a positive impact on many lives through athletics over five decades. And I believe if you asked him what he was most proud of, he would say the ones he turned towards his lord and savior would be what matters most to him. We have been fortunate he lived in our community and coached in Washington County.”

Crockett basketball scores new head coach

Cody Connell will step in as the new head basketball coach at David Crockett High School.

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

Former Daniel Boone teammate Hayden Chandley looked like he was having so much fun coaching at David Crockett that Cody Connell decided to join him at their alma mater’s arch rival.

Connell, who played basketball and baseball at Boone (class of ’09), where he was an assistant girls basketball coach this past season, was hired last week as the new David Crockett boys basketball coach.

Former Pioneers coach John Good announced his resignation last month after a six-year stint that produced two of the 49-year-old program’s three sectional berths and only state tournament appearance. Good is now the coach at Unicoi County.

Connell was teammates with Chandley in basketball and baseball at Boone. In his first season last fall, Chandley led the Pioneers football team to the program’s first quarterfinals appearance.

“Hayden and I played baseball and basketball together,” Connell said. “He grew up with my (younger) brother (Kevin). … And just by watching on Facebook and Instagram and all over the news, the support the football team got this past season – that just shows you that the community just loves Davy Crockett. That’s what kind of drew me in. I’m like, ‘Man, I love that. I wanna be a part of that.’ That was a big thing.

“You know what you’re gonna get when you walk in. You know there’s gonna be a lot of people here every ballgame.”

Connell isn’t expecting to scale unprecedented heights in his first season, but he’s inherited the tools, including some of Chandley’s football players, to climb back toward the top of the league.

He’s happy to inherit football stars Donta Hackler and Prince Kollie, as well as point guard Dawson Wagner and perimeter threats Mack Hensley, Eric Dunbar and Mason Britton. Connell coached Wagner during his six-year stint at Liberty Bell Middle School in Johnson City.

“He was there my last year, my point guard,” Connell said. “It’ll be fun to coach him again, because he was a really good player at the middle school level and I’ve watched him become what he is today. … He had a phenomenal game at Boone last year. Mack was shooting lights out and Dawson was driving by guys.

“Dawson was a freshman (last season). Mason Britton will be a junior. Donta will be a senior. Prince will be a senior. Mack and Eric will be seniors, and we’ve got a lot in the sophomore group – a couple of good athletes there. I’m excited.”

Connell coached one year at Gray Middle School before leaving to become the baseball coach at Indian Trail when it was a middle school. He coached his younger brother Kirby at Gray Middle School and two years at Liberty Bell.

Kirby, a left-handed pitcher who was the South Carolina Class 2A player of the year, is a rising freshman at Tennessee.

“He knew what I expected,” Connell said. “He was very good at being that leader I needed on the floor.”

The middle brother of the Connells, Kevin, was a three-sport standout at Boone and another southpaw pitcher who played baseball at The Citadel. He’s an assistant softball coach at Northeast Mississippi Community College.

“Mom (Kim) and dad (Jeff) have always put us in good positions to succeed,” Connell said. “They’ve done an awesome job raising all three of us, I mean, giving us everything we ever needed and ever wanted.”

Connell quickly reeled off a list of additional influences he owes a debt of gratitude: Daniel Boone boys and girls basketball coaches Chris Brown and Beau Hauldren; former Daniel Boone baseball coach Rob Hoover; former Boone basketball coach Ryan Arnold; and Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip.

While coaching Cutlip’s feeder program, Connell had players such as David Bryant, Tate Wheeler, Kirby Connell, Jerriah Love, Drew Morrison, Will Stevens, Kendle Cutlip, Jake Matherne, Jordan McCloyd, Hunter Phillips and B.J. Edwards (Knox Catholic).

“I’ve had a lot of really good athletes,” Connell said. “I’ve always been able to play fast with the athletes that I’ve had. So, depending on what we’ve got – if we have the personnel to do that – I’m gonna love playing a little full-court press. We’re gonna get all over you from the time you pass the ball in. I like to – if we get a rebound we’re gonna go. We’re taking off. We’re gonna get it up the floor. That’s a style I would love to play if possible. …

“I think with the athletes that we have coming back we should be able to do that. That’s the goal.”

David Crockett athletic director Josh Kite is eager to see Connell go about his business.

“Cody has energy that is contagious and we are excited to see how it will transfer over to his program,” Kite said. “He is great a mentor, and he will do an exceptional job leading our student-athletes.”

The energy Kite generates with fireworks, loud music, etcetera always caught Connell’s eyes and ears.

“That was one thing as a coach when I was at Boone,” Connell said. “I think I was telling my mom or dad the other day, like, when you came in Crockett the atmosphere is better than – I mean, it’s amazing. That goes to show you that Kite – he can do it. He’s been awesome to me so far. He’s made me feel welcome and made me feel at home.”

The high-energy Connell intends to have taxing practices and hopes it’ll pay off with a calming confidence on game nights.

“When it’s game time,” he said, “just let ‘em play and not put any more pressure on ‘em.”

He wants to rekindle the atmosphere Crockett had with players such as Patrick Good, Brendan Coleman, Dustin Day and Josh Releford.

“Let’s get the environment like it was when Patrick was here every night,” he said. “You couldn’t even find a seat. So I want to get that back to where it was a couple of years ago. That’s what I’m looking forward to – that environment that I know can be here. …

“There’s only seven coaches that get to coach in this conference. So to be one of the seven – that’s a phenomenal opportunity, and I’m very excited to get going.”

Connell had tryouts and a youth day camp scheduled for May 28. A team camp scheduled by Good is set for next week at King University. A two-day camp at East Tennessee State will come the following week, when Connell hopes to also take the Pioneers to a camp at UNC-Asheville.

Player of the week

This week’s players of the week are Daniel Boone’s Caitlin Cutshall and Jeremiah Sullivan. Caitlin is an all-state pole vaulter and Jeremiah made all-state in shot put. Check back next week to see the following Andrew Johnson Bank Player of the Week.

Lamar School Girls Track takes sectional crown

CONTRIBUTED

The girls track team won the sectional meet hosted by Daniel Boone High School on May 4. Nine girls qualified for the state competition in Clarksville, Tennessee. Among the 9 qualifiers were Sophia Gouge, who made the state cut in two events, placing third in the high jump (4feet, 6 inches) and fourth in the 400 meter run (school-record 1:07.9). She’ll be joined by teammates Breanna Dunn, second in the 800 (2:36.5, breaking her own school record), Hannah McLain, third in the 1,600 meter run (5:56.9); Annabelle Stephens, third in the shot put (30-8) and 4th in the discus (71-08) and Elizabeth Wheeley, fourth in the high jump (4-4).

   Three relay teams also made state, including the first place 4×200 meter relay (Dunn, Kadence Austin, Abby Whaley, Bella Moore) breaking the school record with a time of 1:59.4. The 4×100 meter relay (57.2)Wheeley, Austin, Whaley, and Moore, finished third and broke the school record for a second time this year. Furthermore, the Lady Cherokees took third in the 4×400 relay (4:45.1) Austin, Faith Greer, Dunn and Whaley in school record fashion.

  Both teams combined with the boy’s 5th place finish, placed Lamar 2nd overall for the meet. There were 16 teams represented in both divisions.

Lamar produced 6 boy qualifiers for the state competition scheduled for the 18th in Clarksville, Tennessee. Gideon Erwin, who place second in the 1600 meter run (5:07) and fourth in the 400 meter run (59.6), will be joined by Austin Silvers, third in the 200 (24.9) tying the school record and fourth in the 100 meter run (12.2) the 4×100 relay team qualified with a time of (52.5), team includes Jedidiah Beals, Austin Davis, Levi Coffie and Cale Ensor. Track teams were recently recognized during the Lamar’s annual Athletic Banquet.

Boone Softball ends season in regionals

The Daniel Boone High School Softball Team ended its season after clinching the Big Seven Conference and the District 1-AAA title.

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

Daniel Boone’s softball season concluded sooner than some might have anticipated, but the 44-win campaign won’t soon be forgotten.

Coach Jeremy Jenkins’ Trailblazers won the Big Seven Conference and the District 1-AAA tournament before losing 3-2 at home against Jefferson County in a regional opener that ended their season. Boone also won the Gibbs Invitational.

“We had a great year finishing 44-7,” Jenkins said. “Conference and district champs and regional semi qualifier. We lost a heartbreaker to Jeff County in the region. As a team and staff we were disappointed we could not go on, but that still does not take away the many successes we had as a team.”

Shortstop Jaycie Jenkins finished an exceptional junior season with a red-hot finish at the plate. She was selected district tournament Most Valuable Player after going 7-for-11 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in four games. She hit a sixth-inning grand slam in a 9-2 championship game win against Science Hill.

“Jaycie Jenkins was our top hitter in the tournament,” Jenkins said, “and carried us during that four-game stretch.”

Jenkins led the ‘Blazers in hitting (.507), slugging (.558), runs (54) and home runs (12), was second with 60 RBIs and third in stolen bases (22-for-24).

Boone was energized by athletic outfielders such as Briley Mesusan and McKenna Dietz. Mesusan, a speedy freshman, led the ‘Blazers in stolen bases (36-for-38) and tied Dietz for second with 46 runs. Dietz was also second on the team in steals (27-for-29).

Other starting position players who’ll return next year include Camryn Sarvis (five home runs), Dannah Persinger (.354 average), Emma Robinette, Greyson Stevens (three home runs) and MaKenna Dance.

“We had a great year and with 11 of the 14 coming back the future is bright for Lady ‘Blazer softball,” Jenkins said. “We look forward to next year and striving to get better.”

Boone was led on the mound by senior Megan Ackerman (25-3, 1.17 ERA) and junior Nickolette Ferguson (19-3, 1.67 ERA). Ackerman pitched a four-hitter in the season finale, as did winning pitcher Catelyn Riley of Jefferson County. She’s daughter of Jeff County football coach/former Tennessee offensive lineman Spencer Riley.

Ackerman was also a weapon at the plate this season. She led the Trailblazers with 62 RBIs and 20 doubles, and hit .448 with eight home runs. Ferguson was a key hitter as well (.382, five home runs, 32 RBIs).

Ackerman, Ferguson and Dietz joined Jenkins on the All-District 1-AAA team.

“We were led down the stretch by our strong pitching in senior Megan Ackerman and junior Nickolette Ferguson,” Jenkins said.

Ackerman is one of three seniors. The others are Bug Hubbard and McKenzie Gibson.

“The three graduating seniors, Megan Ackerman, Kayla Hubbard and McKenzie Gibson, will be missed not only by their teammates,” Jenkins said, “but as a whole by the entire Daniel Boone community.”

Ackerman will be teammates next year at Chattanooga State with Kasey Bennett (Science Hill) and Kylee Wolfe (Sullivan East).

“Our goal was to go out, compete, and work our hardest every game,” Ackerman said. “The success of this season was based on teamwork. I couldn’t be happier with how the team went out and competed this year.

“Every girl contributed and helped in a different way. It’s been a privilege to be a part of this team and to represent Daniel Boone High School.”

Player of the week

This week’s player of the week is David Crockett Soccer’s Matthew Rastall. Matthew was instrumental in the Pioneers’ victory against Boone. Check back next week for the following Andrew Johnson Bank Player of the Week.

Boone Baseball head coach to exit program

Boone baseball head coach Rob Hoover will exit the program after this season.

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

When word began to spread during the season that Daniel Boone veteran baseball coach Rob Hoover would resign at season’s end to enter the ministry, you wanted to believe fate would save his best for last.

Alas, Hoover’s snake-bitten Trailblazers program couldn’t get over the hump, but he exited on top of the world.

The ‘Blazers suffered yet another gut-wrenching loss to Science Hill in the district tournament. Boone led 4-1 in the winners’ bracket semifinals, and a victory would’ve secured a regional berth. But Science Hill rallied to win 5-4 in 10 innings.

“I think there was five years in a row that we were in that same game that we fell short,” Hoover said. “For me, as a Christian – it is easy to get frustrated and ask why – I think it speaks to us as to how we react to those times that are difficult and those times that are frustrating. And I think that’s gonna develop you more than if you constantly win and win and win, and you don’t know what it is to fail. …

“Throughout this life, when you hit a rough patch you better know how to handle adversity. I’m thankful for those losses. As tough as they were, they help strengthen you and they help harden you a little bit. And I was able to help get through things in my personal life that I may not have been able to get through otherwise had it not been for those disappointments and knowing I could get back up from those disappointments.”

Of course, having won 258 games while head coach for 14 seasons, Hoover had his share of success. Maybe the most exciting win was an extra-inning triumph against Daniel Norris, Will Craig and Science Hill at TVA Credit Union Ballpark when Boone had Kevin Connell (The Citadel).

“I think Daniel Norris was a senior and Kevin Connell was a senior,” Hoover said, “and they had a game where it went to the seventh. Matt Pope, the big, hard-throwing right-hander, comes in and Kevin hits a grand slam opposite field to put it into extra innings and we ended up getting another run somehow. And then I think we had two outs and Daniel Norris was up and he hit one – I think center field is 400 and he hit one 399 to the base of the wall, and Travis Keever catches it for the third out. …

“That was one of the greatest wins we’ve had, because we’d had a hard time knocking off Dobyns-Bennett and Science Hill up until that game. I think that game kind of propelled us and gave us some confidence in knowing we could. That game went back and forth and, you know, Kevin’s grand slam to put it into extra innings was just unbelievable.”

Hoover’s final Boone team defeated D-B, Tennessee High and Science Hill. Tennessee commitment Cade Elliott, a junior, shut out Science Hill, 5-0, at Clarence Mabe Field.

“We played so well and pitched so well,” Hoover said. “That ranks up there just about as good as any of ‘em.”

Hoover fondly recalled pitcher Daniel Cox imploring his teammates in a postseason game.

“Daniel was a sophomore and we were playing Sullivan South in the district tournament at Tennessee High,” Hoover said. “It was the Monday night elimination game and it was an even game and no team could score. And as a sophomore, he came in the dugout in the fifth inning – he was throwing it incredible, and he told the team, he screamed at the team, ‘If you’ll just give me one run this game’s over!’

“And we did. We got one run and ended up beating ‘em. I thought right then for a sophomore to say that and to do that, I knew we had something special.”

Hoover was a special mentor to countless teens – and adults, for that matter. Numerous area coaches have offered unsolicited praise through the years.

“Coach Hoover is a first-class coach that I consider a good friend and I have truly enjoyed competing against him,” Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards said. “We both have a lot of respect for each other. We have had some battles, no doubt – regular season, postseason, you name it.

“His teams are always ready to compete. He has been a model coach to me and many others in the area of how you bring honor to God on the field. I totally respect a guy who has a desire to follow the path the Lord leads, and he will be missed as an ambassador coach for our league and area.”

Hoover wanted to be a coach since watching his father, Dave, coach Dobyns-Bennett (1978-85).

“To be honest, he got out of that to help coach my brother and I,” Hoover said. “He coached us all the way up through what are the ages of travel ball now. He brought us up to the point of high school. I was fortunate enough to coach again with him at Boone at one point. He was probably the most instrumental in just kind of showing us what that life was like, and the hard work it takes and what all you need to know and learn.”

Hoover also credited Todd Raleigh, who he played for at Western Carolina, as well as Sullivan South coach Anthony Richardson and Daniel Boone football/softball coach Jeremy Jenkins.

“Todd Raleigh was that person for me that kind of drove me and motivated me, and he was the guy that you never wanted to disappoint,” Hoover said. “I took a lot of my philosophy and coaching style from him. … And I wouldn’t be where I was without Anthony giving me a chance at South. And Jeremy, of course, I was able to come from South to Boone with him when he got the football job back in ’04. He was nice enough to bring me over with his father Jerry. The Jenkins family has been incredible to me.”

Mostly, Hoover said, he appreciated those who played for him. He’ll miss the offseason workouts and practices perhaps more than games.

“Those are the times that you spend just talking about general life and school and their friends and family,” he said. “That offseason time where you’re together all the time just working out in a non-competitive environment, that’s what you miss – just talking to ‘em and being friends with the kids. You’re not gonna find anything else that kind of matches that, because sports, in that aspect, is kind of different than any other relationships that you could have, because you spend so much time together and you’re all fighting for the same cause – one that really matters.”

Hoover is sleeping well knowing he treated his players the way he’d want his daughter to be treated.

“Although I wanted our kids to win and experience and I wanted our program to win and go to a regional, it just wasn’t in it,” Hoover said. “So what do I do as a coach. You’ve gotta make a point and you’ve gotta teach them somehow to get through those tough times.

“Our guys, when they look back, they’re gonna say, ‘What if.’ And I think we did have some teams that were good enough to go. I think this year’s team was good enough to go. But at the same time, when something negative happens, they can look back and they can just take something from that. They might remember something that might help ‘em. And that’s good enough for me.”

Daniel Boone Softball

Daniel Boone’s softball team won the district title with a 9-2 victory over Science Hill in the championship. Tournament MVP Jaycie Jenkins hit a grand slam and finished with five RBIs.

Jenkins tied the score, 2-2, with an RBI single in the fourth. Her grand slam came in the bottom of the sixth. Boone had entered the frame with the score tied.

The red-hot Jenkins finished the tournament 7-for-11 with four runs and 15 RBIs. Nickolette Ferguson pitched a five-hitter in the championship, striking out eight.

The ‘Blazers (44-6) had put Science Hill in the losers’ bracket with a 4-1 victory. The score was tied, 1-1, in the fifth when Jenkins delivered a three-run double. She’d homered in the first inning.

Megan Ackerman pitched a four-hitter for the victory, allowing one unearned run while walking none and striking out four.

The ‘Blazers were scheduled to play Jefferson County in the regional semifinals Tuesday. A win would secure a sectional berth and a spot in the Region 1-AAA championship Wednesday at Morristown East.

Player of the week

This week’s player of the week is the Daniel Boone Softball Team. The squad clinched the Big Seven Conference title this season. Check back next week to see the following Andrew Johnson Player of the Week.

Pioneers fall to Vikings in district play

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

David Crockett first-year baseball coach Spencer Street’s up-and-down debut nearly ended with a tournament high note.

The Pioneers, coming off a 9-22 season, finished 14-16, and they were this close to beating preseason favorite Tennessee High for the second straight time on the Vikings’ home field. Crockett opened District 1-AAA play Friday at Tod Houston Field in Bristol, and trailed 2-1 with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth.

But the Vikings escaped, pulling away for a 4-1 victory that put a bittersweet cap on Street’s inaugural campaign.

The positives included crafty senior left-hander Luke Adams pitching aggressively against a potent lineup in a hitter-friendly ballpark. Adams, who got the victory when the Pioneers stunned Tennessee High 13-7 in Bristol on March 18, allowed two hits, a walk and hit two batters in 4 1/3 innings in the rematch.

Grady Cash and Cade Larkins also showed heart in delivering hits off hard-throwing reliever Gavin Cross (88-90 mph) while trailing 4-1 in the seventh. But some base-running blunders, a balk, a throwing error and a wild pitch spelled doom for the Pioneers.

“We had a couple of mental mistakes and you just can’t do that in a game like this,” Street said. “We didn’t play well enough to win and they did. … But there’s not any quit in ‘em. We felt like we really turned the corner about a month ago with how we compete. And they did it till the end, they fought. It didn’t turn out our way, but nobody can say we didn’t fight until the end. That says a lot about the guys on my staff and what we preach and those guys buying in. It’s been a fun year, but we came up short.”

The future appears bright. Sophomore Cody Wheeley and junior Cade Larkins tied for the team lead in home runs (four) and were first and second, respectively, in RBIs. Larkins hit a blistering .467 and Wheeley batted .368.

Freshman shortstop Garrett Leonard, who left the district tournament loss with an apparent ankle injury in the fifth inning, hit .321 after his varsity promotion helped spark a midseason turnaround.

“He has been a leader for us without saying anything,” Street said. “Just the way he goes about his business says a lot about who he is.”

Grady Cash (.384) and Landon Quillen (.346) also had productive seasons.

Daniel Boone Baseball

It looked like a breakthrough postseason run was beginning to take shape for Daniel Boone baseball coach Rob Hoover. The Trailblazers (18-12) finished 7-5 in the Big Seven Conference and surpassed preseason favorite Tennessee High for the No. 3 seed.

And after escaping sixth-seeded Cherokee, 3-2, in its district opener behind the strong pitching of junior Tennessee commitment Cade Elliott on Friday, the Trailblazers built a 4-1 lead against second-seeded Science Hill on Saturday.

Senior catcher Logan Rivers hit a two-run home against Science Hill, and RBIs from Cole Bishop and Brody Goodman stretched Boone’s lead to 4-1 in the fifth. The lead was still 4-2 in the seventh.

But Hunter Adams left after six innings and 118 pitches, and Matthew Levi’s two-run home run forced extra innings. The ‘Toppers won 5-4 in 10 innings for yet another nail-biting, postseason victory in the series.

Science Hill also avoided a regular-season sweep to Boone by erasing a 3-1 deficit with three runs in the bottom of the sixth one day after Elliott beat Science Hill to snap a 16-game skid in the series. It was part of an undefeated record this season at home for Boone, which also split with Dobyns-Bennett and Tennessee High to help accomplish the feat.

Tennessee High ended Boone’s season with a 9-3 win Monday night.

“I am proud of this team and all they accomplished,” Hoover said. “We were able to go undefeated at home, which we have never done. We were very competitive in every game we played.”

Brody Goodman got the save. Adams homered and had two hits and scored twice in the season-ending loss to Tennessee High. Elliott also had two hits.

Elliott hit .494 for the season. He had nine doubles, four triples, a home run and 33 RBIs. He was 4-1 with 1.04 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 40 innings.

Colby Backus hit .394 with 11 doubles, a home run, 31 RBIs and 19 stolen bases. Backus also made a number of difficult catches in right field.

Goodman, the center fielder, hit .374 with eight doubles, three triples, 21 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. Adams was 4-3 with 58 strikeouts and a 3.38 ERA.

David Crockett Softball

David Crockett senior Kara Weems pitched a four-hit shutout as the Pioneers defeated Volunteer in the opening round of the District 1-AAA softball tournament Monday in Church Hill. Weems, who will play at Milligan College, retired the first six batters and 12 of the first 13.

Mackenzie Baldwin (4-for-4, two RBIs, double, one run) and Maddie Roy (3-for-4, two runs, RBI, double) propelled the Pioneers’ bats.

Crockett (24-13) advanced to play Science Hill in the winners’ bracket semifinals Tuesday evening.

Daniel Boone Softball

Top-seeded Daniel Boone (41-6) was scheduled to open against fourth-seeded Dobyns-Bennett on Tuesday in the winners’ bracket semifinals (after press time for the Herald and Tribune).

The winners’ bracket final is scheduled for Wednesday. The losers’ bracket final is scheduled for Thursday. The championship game is set for Friday, as is an if-necessary game.

Crockett Softball still has chance to retain title

The David Crockett High School Softball team finished in third place in the Big Seven Conference, but may still be able to defend their District 1-AAA tournament title.

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

David Crockett’s softball team must settle for a third-place finish in the Big Seven Conference after a hard-fought 1-0 loss Monday at Science Hill.

But the Pioneers (7-5, 22-13) have at least a puncher’s chance at defending their District 1-AAA tournament title, particularly if Riley Hope returns from a potential injury after a jarring collision with a block wall at Science Hill.

She left in an ambulance, but only after sitting up on her own and telling teammates and coaches she was okay.

The Pioneers are formidable primarily because of senior pitcher Kara Weems. She pitched a three-hitter in the hard-luck loss at Science Hill, and one of those was a blooper.

“Kara’s definitely one of the best in the league,” said Science Hill coach Jerry Higgins, whose Hilltoppers are assured no worse than a No. 2 seed for the district. “And she pitched a great game today – in, out, in, out, in, out, and we just couldn’t square it up.”

Weems, a Milligan College signee, was perhaps most effective against Hilltoppers cleanup batter Sejal Neas, who pitched a one-hit shutout. Neas, an impressive power hitter, popped out all three times while failing to get the ball out of the infield.

“Kara did a good job keeping her off the bases,” said Weems, who is excited to see the Pioneers try to defend their title. “I think it’s anybody’s ballgame. We played them down to the seventh inning. If we play them again, I think our chances are just as good. I’m not gonna give up on this team. As long as Kara’s throwing and feeling good and the girls are behind her, I’d put her up against any of ‘em.

“She was doing really good today. She puts a lot of pressure on herself and she’s upset with the loss. But I couldn’t have asked for her to do any more.”

David Crockett sophomore pitcher Cody Wheeley and the Pioneers baseball team piled up 14 hits in four innings en route to a 14-2 non-conference win against Sullivan South on Thursday at Warren Miller Park.

Wheeley allowed two hits and one unearned run against the Rebels while walking none and striking out six. Wheeley leads the Pioneers in home runs (four) and RBIs (26).

“We had some seniors step up mid-season,” Wheeley said. “They realized that we had a job to get done and it changed a lot. … Last year we struggled a little bit. It’s great to come out and do it for the community. It’s bigger than the nine guys that are on the field. We’ve got a whole community here to play for.”

Cade Larkins hit a three-run home run in the win against South and homered and drove in six runs in a 12-4 win against Sullivan East on Monday. It was Crockett’s eighth win in the past 11 games. The Pioneers also have won five straight Big Seven Conference games.

Freshman leadoff batter Garrett Leonard went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs against East after going 4-for-4 against South. The freshman raised his average to .311.

“We plugged him in when we played Dobyns-Bennett about halfway through the year,” Crockett first-year coach Spencer Street said. “And I’ll be honest, you kind of worry about guys getting mad about bringing up a freshman. But they embraced him. And we really kind of – attitude and effort wise we kind of turned the corner when he got up here.

“He’s a quiet kid. He’s not gonna say much, but I think the guys know he’s a competitor and they’ve embraced him. He’s done a great job. He’s been huge for us.”

Daniel Boone’s softball team fell to 40-6 on the season with a 7-5 loss at home to Jefferson County on Monday.

McKenna Dietz and Megan Ackerman were each 2-for-4 and Makenna Dance had an RBI double. Jaycie Jenkins went 1-for-2 with two RBIs.

The Patriots scored five in the seventh for the victory, but the setback could be a lose-win situation for the Trailblazers. Boone tallied nine hits off Jefferson County’s top pitcher, football coach Spencer Riley’s daughter Catelyn. It should help build confidence should the teams meet again in the posteason.

Ackerman is 23-2 for Boone. Nickolette Ferguson is 17-3.

Jenkins leads Boone with eight home runs and a .488 batting average. Ackerman has a team-high 57 RBIs and is second in hitting (.445). Freshman Brylee Mesusan had 33 stolen bases. Dietz (27) and Jenkins (22) are also threats on the basepaths.

Daniel Boone’s Cade Elliott delivered four hits and four RBIs in the Trailblazers’ 9-1 defeat of University High on Monday. Colby Backus tallied three hits and Brody Goodman added two hits and a walk.

Hunter Adams struck out seven in four innings en route to victory. Goodman worked the final two frames.

Player of the week

This week’s player of the week is David Crockett Softball’s MacKenzie Baldwin. MacKenzie has been a leader at the plate for the Pioneers this season. Check back next week for the following Andrew Johnson Bank Player of the Week.

Player of the week

This week’s player of the week is Daniel Boone Softball’s Megan Ackerman. Megan has been a leader for the Trailblazers on the softball diamond this season. Check back next week for the following Andrew Johnson Bank’s Player of the Week.

Boone Softball leads Big Seven Conference

The Daniel Boone High School Softball Team is currently leading the Big Seven Conference after defeating Science Hill High School at home on Monday.

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

Daniel Boone’s softball team enters the homestretch of the regular season hitting on an all cylinders.

The Trailblazers (8-1, 38-5) took a half-game lead over Science Hill for first place in the Big Seven Conference with a 15-3 win against David Crockett on Monday in Gray.

Megan Ackerman hit two home runs, drove in five runs and pitched five innings for the victory against the Pioneers.

Jaycie Jenkins also homered for Boone, which has been on a roll most of the season.

Jenkins is batting .500 with a .559 on-base percentage. Ackerman and Boone’s other pitcher, Nickolette Ferguson, are batting .430 and .412, respectively.

Ackerman leads the team with 53 RBIs and is tied for the team lead with Jenkins in home runs with six. Ferguson and Camryn Sarvis each have five home runs.

Ackerman (22-1) and Ferguson (16-3) have been dependable on the mound. Ackerman has 107 strikeouts and 12 walks in 136 1/3 innings. Ferguson has struck out 133 and walked 29 in 103 1/3 innings.

“Both of our pitchers have pitched a lot of big games,” Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “We’ve got confidence in both of them out there every time they take the mound. We’re trying to pitch to contact and make the plays behind ‘em as much as we can.”

Boone also has more speed than Jenkins is accustomed to. Brylee Mesusan leads the team with 31 stolen bases. Makenna Dietz (24) and Jenkins (22) are also threats on the bases.

“It’s kind of like we’ve got three leadoff hitters in our lineup,” Jenkins said. “Mesusan’s got a lot of speed. When we can get her on base we’ve got a really good chance of scoring.”

Boone’s beaten quality competition, including a title in the tournament at Gibbs.

“Going to Gibbs and beating some good competition down there and beating Girls Preparatory School, 5-1, was a big win for us,” Jenkins said. “They’d beat us last year. And knocking Gibbs out in the championship, 2-0, was a big win for us.

“I think that tournament is as good a tournament as you can be in in the state of Tennessee, and we really pitched well all week long. That’s what’s really been carrying us – our pitching and defense.

“Hopefully our bats will get hot at the right time. Last year, I felt like we were a little dead-legged going into the tournament. We pitched really well, but we never really hit the ball really good last year at the end of the season.

“Hopefully, we can just keep this going for the next week, because the tournament starts in a week.”

David Crockett Softball

David Crockett (7-3, 19-9) has been hampered somewhat by the shin splints of ace Kara Weems.

“But she has been a fighter and fought through it,” Crockett coach Carla Weems said. “Kara is having a good year. She’s had to battle an injury with shin splints.”

Weems is 12-5 on the mound. Jenna Davis (6-4) has also pitched effectively at times.

Alyssa Suits is leading Crockett with a .422 average. She also has 11 stolen bases.

Matty McKee is batting .368. Riley Hope and Mackenzie Baldwin are tied for the team lead with seven home runs. Weems is batting .355 with four home runs. Ashlyn Dulaney also has four home runs.

“Alyssa Suits is hitting great and is great on the bases,” Carla Weems said. “Jenna Davis and Maddie Roy combined for nine RBIs in the Cherokee game.

“Maddie is a senior and has battled the loss of a childhood friend this season and needed to have a good game to lift her spirits.”

Daniel Boone Baseball

Daniel Boone’s baseball team (7-5, 14-11) concluded the Big Seven Conference portion of its schedule with a tough 1-0 loss at Tennessee High last week. Junior Cade Elliott pitched exceptionally while allowing one run and two hits in 5 1/3 innings. Elliott threw 113 pitches.

The ‘Blazers narrowly missed a home run earlier in the game when Colby Backus lined a double off the left field fence.

“I thought it was gone,” said Tennessee High starter Davis Hall, who threw a two-hit shutout.

Elliott said Backus, a Providence Academy transfer who’s played well in right field, has provided protection for Elliott at the plate.

“Backus came in this year and I was excited,” Elliott said. “Everybody was singing his praises and stuff. Instantly we clicked. He’s one of the guys now.

“He’s one of my best friends. Having him out there is great. We talk all the time. He makes great plays like those out there today. He comes in and hits ‘em hard. He’s a great guy to have in the lineup.”

David Crockett Baseball

College quarterback prospect Cade Larkins is leading David Crockett’s baseball team in hitting (.441) and on-base percentage (.542).

Sophomore Cody Wheeley is slugging a team-best .742 and leads the team in home runs (four) and RBIs (22). He’s second on the team in hitting (.381) and on-base percentage (.512).

Wheely also had a team-best 3.86 ERA. He is 1-1 on the mound and has converted both of his save opportunities.

Player of the week

This week’s player of the week is David Crockett Baseball’s Grady Cash. Grady was instrumental in the Pioneers’ win over Daniel Boone last week. Check back next week for the following Andrew Johnson Bank Player of the Week.

Pioneer Baseball takes down Trailblazers

The David Crockett High School Baseball Team was led to victory by Pioneer pitcher Grady Cash against the Daniel Boone High School Trailblazers during the team’s conference game last week. The Pioneers are now 3-6 in the Big Seven Conference and 7-12 overall.

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

David Crockett’s baseball team didn’t pay off an umpire, but it salvaged a split with Daniel Boone last week thanks to Grady Cash.

Cash pitched Crockett to victory and went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a run in the Pioneers’ 8-5 defeat of Boone on Wednesday at Warren Miller Park.

The versatile Cash allowed one earned run in four innings while giving up three hits, walking two and striking out four.

“Grady Cash has been playing very well lately,” first-year coach Spencer Street said. “I don’t really know what his best position is.

“He helps us out so much on the mound. He’s our second conference starter, behind the lefty (Luke) Adams. He’s kind of a utility guy, and it’s not because he can’t play a position better than anybody else. It’s really because he does everything so well. And he hits well.

“He would make the sandwiches and drive the bus if we asked him to. He’s played every position this year except catcher, and I think I’m gonna put him in at catcher in one of our last games just so he can say he played all nine positions.”

Cash was hitting .379 and second on the team with 15 RBIs following Monday’s victory against Cherokee, which improved the Pioneers to 3-6 in the Big Seven Conference and 7-12 overall.

Cade Larkins is leading the Pioneers with a .440 average. Sophomore Cody Wheeley is leading the Pioneers in RBIs (16) and runs (18). He’s also 1-1 on the mound with two saves and 16 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings.

“He’s got that pretty left-handed swing and in every conference win we’ve had, he’s closed the game out,” Street said.

“He’s gonna be a guy that garners a lot of (college) attention this summer and next year.”

Daniel Boone Baseball

Daniel Boone junior Cade Elliott doesn’t get much attention. But that’s because he’s already committed to Tennessee.

Duke and East Tennessee State had already shown strong interest, too. But Elliott, a 6-foot-6 left-handed two-way player, said colleges have honored his commitment by halting their pursuit.

Elliott raised his average near .500 with a 3-for-3 night in the Trailblazers’ 8-6 home win against Tennessee High on Monday.

“He’s a really, really good high school hitter,” Tennessee High coach Preston Roberts said.

The victory denied the Vikings from moving into a first-place tie with Dobyns-Bennett and Science Hill, and allows the ‘Blazers (7-4, 14-10) a decent chance of still finishing as high as second.

Elliott pitched a complete game in Boone’s 12-3 defeat of David Crockett last week at Clarence Mabe Field. He struck out 10 and walked none en route to a five-hitter.

He also went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI.

“I’ve been having a lot of fun this year, more fun than I’ve had in baseball in a long time,” Elliott said.

“These are good guys and when you see a team like this you just love playing around ‘em.”

Boone honored former coach Jerry Jenkins prior to the game. A large turnout of former players paid tribute.

Daniel Boone Softball

Daniel Boone’s softball team remained in a first-place tie with David Crockett in the Big Seven Conference while improving to 35-5 with a 10-1 win against Dobyns-Bennett on Monday in Gray.

Nickolette Ferguson struck out nine and walked none while pitching a four-hitter. Ferguson also had two hits, as did Dannah Persinger, Megan Ackerman and Brylee Mesusan.

Ackerman pitched a shutout on Saturday when the ‘Blazers beat Gibbs 2-0 in the championship of the Gibbs Invitational. Jaycie Jenknins was 2-for-3 with a run and Ferguson went 2-for-2 with an RBI.

Ferguson pitched a two-hitter and Jenkins went 3-for-4 in a 6-0 win against William Blount.

Ferguson tossed a five-inning perfect game in a 15-0 win against Union for the ‘Blazers. Jenkins and Greyson Stevens each hit a home run.

David Crockett Softball

David Crockett stayed atop the Big Seven Conference standings with wins last week at Dobyns-Bennett and Tennessee High.

Riley Hope went 4-for-4 with five RBIs and four runs in a 15-1 victory at Tennessee High on Wednesday. The Pioneers also got home runs from Madison Roy and Mackenzie Baldwin.

Milligan College signee Kara Weems pitched a three-hitter and drove in three runs against the Vikings.

Pioneer coach takes Unicoi job, leaves legacy

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

David Crockett basketball coach John Good’s unprecedented six-year run at David Crockett has come to a halt.

Good is leaving to accept the same position at Unicoi County. The Class AA Blue Devils have been to nine sectionals in the past 15 years under coaches John English, who is now the superintendent, and his successor Michael Smith.

Crockett has been to three Class AAA sectionals since the school opened in 1971, and Good accounted for two of those in 2016 and ’17.

“I’ve always had great respect for Coach English and Coach Smith – what they did and the way their teams played,” Good said. “They love the game and they love kids.”

With his record-setting son Patrick leading the way, Good guided David Crockett’s program to its first state tournament berth in 2016 after finishing an impressive two-game sweep of a powerful Tee Higgins-led Oak Ridge team that season.

Dustin Day and Brendan Coleman played exceptionally in the sectional win at Oak Ridge, and Good delivered one of his many game-winners for the Pioneers, who’d previously beaten Oak Ridge that season in one of the most entertaining Arby’s Classic games of all-time.

Oak Ridge was especially motivated after that loss, but Crockett didn’t enter a sold-out gym intimidated or nervous.

“I remember being down 10 in the third quarter at Oak Ridge with 1:47 on the clock and I was like – I remember just looking at our coaches and I could see our kids, and they weren’t rattled,” John Good said. “And I’m like, ‘Shoot, we’re gonna win this thing.’ … That was an awesome feeling.”

The senior-laden team suffered a disappointing 78-68 loss to Station Camp in the state quarterfinals, but Crockett got back to the sectional with an overhauled roster the following season thanks to dynamo combo guard Josh “Rico” Releford.

“He really went to work that season,” Good said. “He was a warrior, that’s for sure. … Those first four years – it was good to get everybody’s attention. Everybody had to start scouting Crockett. I just thought that was fun, and the kids and the community really supported each other. It was just a fun ride.”

David Crockett athletic director Josh Kite agreed.

“He’s given us so much here at Crockett,” Kite said. “And I don’t want to be selfish, but I’d have honestly loved for him to stay here. But it is what it is and it’s what’s best for him and his family. We had a good conversation over the phone a couple of nights ago and he thought it was best to explore other options in the classroom and coaching.

“I commend him for everything he did for us at Crockett. He gave us six years of great basketball and he’s done stuff here that nobody’s been able to do. He went to the state (tournament) and gave us an opportunity to win.”

Good thanked Kite and former principal Andy Hare for giving him his first head coaching job.

“Coach Hare gave me an opportunity, took a chance on me, a guy who’d never been a head coach before – him and Josh together,” Good said. “ And Mrs. (Peggy) Wright and everyone else there have been great, school board members … have been so supportive with our program and what we do.”

Good will continue to teach at Crockett for the semester’s remainder. Kite said he’d like to hire a coach within a month, but won’t make a hasty hire with spring camp in mind.