Brentwood Academy has been around since 1969.
In that time, the Eagles football team has consistently dominated whoever it faced.
With 27 state championship appearances and 11 titles in 46 seasons, the Eagles are one of the most dominant teams in the history of Tennessee high school football. Only two schools have won more state titles, Maryville (15) and Alcoa (13).
Last year, their 56-55 double-overtime win over Montgomery Bell Academy for the Division II-AA title was their most recent triumph.
But the team’s most dominant time came under Carlton Flatt, its first, and by far its longest-tenured, coach. Flatt coached the Eagles for all 10 of their championships before last year. Over nearly 40 seasons, he brought the Eagles from the Peace and Love age to the Internet age- coaching for all the seasons between 1970 and 2006, except for a three-year hiatus from 1999-2001.
Just five years into existence, the Eagles had gone from nothing to an on-the-rise powerhouse. In the 1980s, Brentwood Academy under Flatt would have more state championship appearances (7) than regular season losses (6), winning five state titles.
But in the 1970s things started out, as they seem to always do, with humbling beginnings. The first class of students to play football at BA became known as the Cowpasture Boys. They would go on to greatness after a rough start.
The team won just five games in its first three seasons, going 1-0-2, 3-7-1 and 1-10 from 1970 to 1972.
In 1973, things turned around. Led by Flatt’s protege quarterback, the 130-pound Randall Mash, the Eagles posted their first winning season.
Going 8-1 in the regular season, they beat Westmoreland in the Springfield Blanket Bowl 28-7.
Next season, the Eagles were perfect from start to finish, completing the first of now six undefeated seasons. The 13-0 season started with a statement, when Lipscomb fell 55-6. The next week the Eagles shut out Loretto 20-0 and were on their way.
During the rest of the season, Brentwood Academy would not allow more than two touchdowns in any game, while averaging almost 44 points scored.
Come the Class A playoffs, the dominance continued. Facing Cannon County in the first round they won 52-7. Then, against Houston County in the semi-finals, they won 53-15.
The next game, the championship game, came against South Pittsburgh.
For the three-hour trip the team took a regular school bus, that Headmaster Bill Brown had painted red, white and blue for the occasion.
Led by Mash, the Eagles won 38-7.
“On the bus after the game I was telling the guys that we were going to stop and get something to eat,” said Flatt in a retrospective video. “You can get anything you want to eat. and they all cheered.”
“And then I said because you are going to pay for it,” he said, enjoying the memory of his josh. “I had coached a lot of these guys for five years, they had been a starter for five years, my quarterback had been a starter for five years, so you can imagine the relationship I had with them.”
The next year, the Eagles got bumped up to Class AA. There were only three classifications in Tennessee high school football at the time. The Eagles would not win another championship until 1980. But Flatt credits the struggle that came from upping classes to the later greatness.
“If we had stayed in single A we never would have been what we were. It stretched us,” he said.
The rest is Tennessee high school football history.