By CORY WOODROOF
With the buzzer sounding on 2018, we enter 2019 with excitement for what’s happening in Williamson County sports and an eye in the rear view mirror for the five biggest stories in the year gone by.
The sporting year was crowned by one singular achievement: Brentwood Academy’s dual four-peat in football and basketball.
Garland caps four-peat for BA basketball
In March, Darius Garland finished his historic run with the Eagles through a 50-44 win over Baylor.
“I don’t know. I’m lost for words, actually,” Garland said at the time of his big win. “I’m really excited.”
He would go on to play at Vanderbilt for his freshmen year, though an early-season injury would cut his season short. It’s unclear if he’ll return to the Commodores or enter the NBA draft, one he’s expected to be a lottery pick in.
“We have the best guard in the country with the ball in his hands, the best free-throw shooter, the best decision-maker, and so we center it around him,” BA head coach Hubie Smith said that game-winning night of his star player. “He has the ball, and everybody else, we teach them what to do without the ball, and he’s great.”
This was BA’s second basketball four-peat, with NBA player Brandan Wright pulling off the same accomplishment from 2003-06. He had a similar trajectory to Garland: he played at North Carolina for a year before being taken eighth in the draft.
Eagles football defies rocky October for fourth-straight title
As for the Eagles football team, a four-peat was not quite an expected outcome to end the year after the team lost to key region games to MBA and McCallie in October.
Though, a rough path in the playoffs didn’t dampen the rebound, as BA fought back to make it to Cookeville and claimed the D-II AAA state title in a 28-6 blanking of Memphis University School.
The story wrote itself, with outside linebacker Jack Victory making the opening play that sparked the BA avalanche and the game-sealing pick.
“I’m so proud to be a part of it,” Victory said of being an Eagle that night. “I’m so proud to be a part of this class.”
The Eagles winning a fourth-straight football title hadn’t been done by a school in the state since Ensworth’s run in the 00s.
It’s a major mark for a program that has a good chance of pulling off a fifth next fall.
“It says a lot about the culture of our school,” head coach Cody White said of what the run means for BA. “Quite honestly, this thing was built a long time ago… we’re blessed to have that as a legacy, and these kids, obviously, have added to it. There’ll be some other guys who come forward that’ll add to it further.”
And talk about a good 2018: athlete Nate Clifton was on both the basketball and football teams and part of those four-peat runs. He also committed to play defensive line for Vanderbilt in December.
CPA completes undefeated football season, wins state
The Christ Presbyterian Academy Lions football team knew a thing or two about winning in 2018. The team didn’t drop a single game all season long, including postseason play.
The Lions got the best of region rival Battle Ground Academy, 41-21, in December, capping a 14-0 run to claim the top spot in D-II AA.
“It feels amazing,” Lions wideout Noah Henderson, a Mr. Football finalist, said about winning state that day. “It’s a dream come true to end the whole high school career this way: a perfect season and a state championship.”
The Lions will miss guys like Henderson, RB/LB Kane Patterson (off to Clemson), QB Ryan Eledge and TE/LB Bryce McCormick, but the senior-heavy Lions got to end their time with the program on the highest of notes.
“It was just a total team effort,” head coach Ingle Martin said of the victory. “Each one of them [gave] something different to the group, and I think that’s what makes a group special.”
Brentwood volleyball continues state streak with six
The Brentwood High School volleyball team can’t stop winning state titles, which comes at no worry of the Lady Bruins or their fans.
The team got a decisive 3-0 victory over Siegel in October, making this the sixth-straight for the legendary program.
“They just wanted to finish with a win,” Campbell said the team’s accomplishment that day. “They didn’t want the tradition to end with them.
“They’re driven, but they’re goal-oriented. They’re driven kids, and I’m blessed to have them.”
Campbell won her fourteenth title as a head coach, another good reason why she was inducted into the TSSAA’s Hall of Fame earlier in the year.
Sophomore Shaye Eggleston carried on the winning tradition of her sister Logan, now playing on the big stage at Texas.
“I really am honored to be able to carry on her legacy, to continue that; finish what she started,” the younger Eggleston said after the big game.
CPA girls soccer takes state title
It wasn’t just the CPA football team who brought back a title to the school’s trophy case.
The Lady Lions took D-II AA’s state title on a Sylvie Keck penalty kick against Chattanooga Christian in October.
“Your heart is beating so fast and so [the ball] is going into the right lower corner,” Keck said in reflection of the big kick.
“And honestly it wasn’t that good of a shot. I practiced it so much in practice, and had it perfect where I wanted it to go and it was a pretty ugly PK. I’m not going to lie, but somehow, someway it went in.”
Head coach Tom Gerlach spoke highly of his Lady Lions team.
“What they did is really unheard of, so these girls are really special,” Gerlach said. “They play with heart, but they play really clean. They might play aggressive, but they don’t come in with their cleats up. It says a lot about their character.”
There were many other big accomplishments, great stories and wonderful memories to discuss, but we won’t take all the fun away now. Be sure to click through our archives of the year in sports and relive that special outcome you remember so fondly.
Here’s to the year that was in Williamson County sports, and to the year ahead!
BA photos by Andy Collignon, CPA football photo by Kendyl Seals, Brentwood volleyball photo by Whitney Jarreld, CPA soccer photo provided by school. Quotes obtained in CPA soccer story by Chip Cirillo. Others by Woodroof.