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The Eagles football team ended their season with a lot to celebrate and be proud of. The team boasted not one, but two Mr. Football finalists, with senior Brant Lawless being named the Tennesse Titans Division II – Class A Mr. Football for 2017. Brant had 35 tackles for the regular season, 10 1/2 tackles for a loss, 9 1/2 sacks, and one fumble recovery. Brant was also selected for the 2017 Toyota East/West All Star Game and was named an Army All-American. We are so proud of Brant and can't wait to see him on Saturdays next year playing for the University of Tennessee.
Junior Xavier Myers was our second Mr. Football finalist, and while he may not have won it this year, his accomplishments on the field left everyone impressed. For the regular season, he had 31 touchdowns, with 185 carries for 2,174 yards rushing.
The All-Region Team was recently named, and there were lots of talented Eagles on the roster.
D II – 1 A West All-Region Team
Offensive Player of the Year: Xavier Myers #26
Defensive Player of the Year: Brant Lawless #34
Athlete of the Year: Jesse Watson #4
1st Team Offense:
OL: Jack Elliott #76, Maverick Marlin #79
1st Team Defense:
D-Line: Jack Elliott #76
Linebacker: Sid Morris #22
DB’s: Bobby Bowling #3, Zach Young #12
2nd Team Offense:
WR: Bobby Bowling #3 – Nashville Christian
OL: Warren Hanson #64 – Nashville Christian
2nd Team Defense:
D-Line: Aaron Gray #73 – Nashville Christian
LB: Jesse Parrish #50 – Nashville Christian
Will Irwin #5, Hayden Jarrell #53
Academic All-District Team:
Jack Elliott #76, Chad Kinnard #16, Will Irwin #5
Great job Eagles! We are proud of you and look forward to another great season in 2018. We are NC!
After winning a state championship for the first time in school history, Coach Jeff Brothers sat down with us to talk about what we can expect in the 2016 season ahead.
What have you been doing since last year’s state championship to prepare for the new season?
The preparations for this season started just days after the last one ended in December. Off-season weight training and speed/agility work began before Christmas of 2015. Our guys have learned to love the weight room, and that's a great compliment to Coach Crosby. The coaches spent the off-season visiting with staffs at several colleges including Georgia, Vanderbilt, Houston, Western Kentucky and others. Spring practice in May gave us a look at players in roles that we needed to replace from last year's senior class. Summer 7-on-7 scrimmages with Ensworth, CPA, BGA, Rossview and Grace Christian allowed us to work on defensive coverage and quarterback/receiver timing.
How is this year’s team different from last year’s?
This year's team has plenty of talent to make another deep run in the playoffs. We need to develop depth at key positions, and we lack the experience of last year's group. Most of those seniors had started three or four years. They were more battle tested for sure. This group will have to learn and improve quickly as the season moves ahead. While many on this year's team played quite a bit last season, the game was in hand by the time they saw the field. We believe in the talent of this group, but the poise and urgency to perform under pressure will have to come in time.
Who is standing out so far as someone to watch on your team?
Jesse Watson has continued to work hard and become a playmaker in all three phases (offense, defense and special teams). Lelan Wilhoite and Xavier Myers have shown the ability to run the ball with great speed, vision and power. Daniel Watson and Adam Young have stepped in at Fullback. Brant Lawless and Andrew Sullivan have moved to the Tight End position and give us some depth there along with Will Irwin. Bryce Pemberton has some good arm talent and will continue to develop his timing and understanding of our schemes at QB. That said, any coach will tell you that the stars are in the trenches. Jack Elliott, Joseph Dyer, Noah Schurman, Maverick Marlin, Tanner Goodman, Warren Hanson and Hayden Jarrell will be the key to our offensive line. Along with Brant in the defensive line, those guys will rotate to allow for some depth. Slater Howard is a guy with college offers too. He plays well and can also be a game changer in every phase. As the season progresses, I expect many others to rise up and get everyone's attention.
Describe some of the things you do to help these players grow as leaders and men.
We always want to speak into the lives of these boys as often as we can. We want to be intentional and authentic in how we work and play. Every year I pick a book to use as the backdrop for what the boys call "story time." Each Thursday practice ends with story time in the shadow of the scoreboard. This year's book is Legacy, by James Kerr. It was recommended to me by one of my former players, Golden Tate. He thought the boys would appreciate it, and I think he's right. My wife and I also host a senior dinner at our house each week to enjoy fellowship and encourage the senior players. Most everything you get in football is an opportunity to teach, to learn, and to grow. With that in mind, everything is geared towards helping these boys all become better players, students and men.
What are your goals personally, as a staff, and as a team for the 2016 football season?
Our goal every season is to win the championship. However, that's not how we'll measure this team or this season. John Wooden's definition of success is doing everything you can to become the best you are capable of being. Sometimes that means a championship, sometimes not. In the end, we'll measure ourselves by that. Personally, I want to hit the mark as a man who has a platform to speak into the lives of these young men. We'll coach them up on the field, but the lessons learned and the impact we have is so much broader than that. I understand that over my career I'll never be able to remember 100% of the players that play for me, but 100% of the players will remember me. That is a responsibility that we, as coaches, will take very seriously. We have a talented team, and with the right amount of character and unselfishness, we can accomplish big things.
December 4, 2015 will forever be remembered at Nashville Christian School as the day our football team made school history. The Eagles traveled to Cookeville for their first-ever appearance in a state championship game and then sealed the deal with a decisive 42-14 win over Greenback.
It was a week full of activity as the team, families and fans made plans for the trip. On Wednesday, the senior football players enjoyed a delicious steak dinner with all the trimmings courtesy of the Nashville Christian faculty and staff in celebration of their trip to the championship game. Coach Poppy Keeton, who Keeton field is named for, spoke words of encouragement to the team at Thursday's final practice, and expressed how proud he was of all they had accomplished.
Everyone from the preschool on up was invited to the pep rally sendoff, and the gym was full of fans, families and alumni showing their support. Patrick Sheehan created another inspiring video that really got everyone pumped up for the big game.
The morning of the championship couldn't have been more beautiful with blue skies and cool temperatures as everyone gathered at the pre-game tailgate organized by the Eagles Parent Association. After circling up to pray for the team, the fans headed over to the stadium with their shakers and signs, smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes.
"The whole championship experience was so memorable for the players, coaches and entire school community. It was great to see our people so full of joy. Our players were able to have a college game style experience, and the city of Cookeville did a remarkable job of making the trip special for each player. The memories of that day will be with the players and NCS family for a lifetime," said Head Football Coach, Jeff Brothers.
Students, families, fans and alumni filled the stands making what was probably the largest crowd to ever attend a Nashville Christian School football game. Alumni football players who paved the way with their love and dedication were so proud to see everything come together on this historic day, and the Eagles didn't disappoint as they dominated the field and secured the gold ball.
Class of '78 quarterback Dennis Wilson said, "Being a part of the school since the beginning, I have always known what a special place this is, and I am proud of all the things the school has accomplished, but being able to say we are State Champs is an unbelievably special feeling. After three years of being one game short of playing in Cookeville and now getting the Gold Ball makes me so happy for the coaches and players and all of the hard work they put in to accomplish their goal. I am proud to be able to say I am a part of the NCS family."
After the game, senior Mareio McGraw was awarded Offensive MVP and sophomore Jesse Watson was named Defensive MVP. Finally the moment came for the team to take the gold ball and hold it high as the crowed waved their flags, shouted in support, and hugged one another in celebration.
We continued to celebrate the win here at NCS with a follow-up pep rally, a trophy presentation at halftime of a basketball game, and senior quarterback Kyle Tidwell was chosen as the Titans Player of the Week. There will be more celebrations and a ring ceremony to come, but for now the Nashville Christian community is simply grateful for an incredible finish to what has been a difficult season at times, and certainly one that we will never forget.
Daniel Bituli has been recruited by the top football programs across the country from Oregon to Miami, but it was his home state of Tennessee that won him over in the end. Daniel has committed to the University of Tennessee but it’s his Nashville Christian football team he is focused on right now. We recently sat down with Daniel to talk about his goals and dreams for this year and in the future as a Tennessee Volunteer…
They have a great future. It’s kinda close to home to where I can come back and spend time with my family and friends but far away enough too. UT has some really good recruits coming in, and I’ve already built a relationship with some of them, so it’s a nice feeling that I’m going to school, and I know some of the players and how they work.
Your parents recently visited UT for the first time, what did they think?
Oh they loved it. They thought it was a great school. I’m glad they enjoyed it, so that definitely helped me choose. They spoke to the man who does chapel for the team and obviously my dad is a very religious person so he really enjoyed that. They liked the facility in general. We saw the psychology facility and it was really good, and the way they set up your schedule really works out.
So you want to major in psychology?
Psychology and social work. I love to be around kids, and I feel like both of those majors would help me in assisting kids, so that’s why I chose it.
What are you looking forward to most about college?
Getting a good education, winning a bowl game and eventually a championship. Oh, and unlimited food. I’m definitely excited about that.
Have you gotten a lot of feedback from UT fans?
Oh my goodness yes. I’m grateful for it. They see my talent, and it’s a really good feeling that so many people say so many good things about me. I love that.
Why make your commitment to UT now?
I wanted to get it done before the season so my teammates and I would not get too distracted by all that. We have a bigger picture of trying to get to state right now. So I wanted to make my decision and then try to focus on the important things for our team right now.
Tell me about Nashville Christian football. It’s your senior year, so what are your hopes and expectations for this year?
Winning the state. That’s all. I want to make my teammates happy, win first in district, go undefeated and, God willing, win the state championship.
What do you think it takes to make a successful football program?
First off you have to have great coaches who really care about you as a player. Coach Brothers knows what he’s talking about. He’s smart on and off the field. He disciplines you as a player and wants you to think smart. Coach Brothers also knows how to develop a great staff. Coach Montgomery knows the game of football. He played in college and has been coaching a long time. He’s seen every level of football. He’s sent players to the league. He definitely knows what he’s doing. Coach McClary was a beast in college. I wish I could have seen him play. He definitely knows what he’s talking about. He’s just a cool guy. Every guy in the locker room just loves having him around and having a great conversation with him. Coach Crosby will push you further than you think you can go. He knows defense really well. And Coach Anderson is a great D-line coach. He played in college so he’s also seen higher levels of football, and he can relate to us because he’s younger.
You also have to have a successful weight program. One of the things I really like about Nashville Christian is we don’t really have one of those amazing weight rooms, but we have Coach Crosby who pushes us further than we think we could go. It just shows that you don’t need a state-of-the-art weight room to get big. It just takes hard work.
And then there are the players. The players all have a good relationship with each other. We all understand each other. We hang out all the time off the field. The guys on our team have a great work ethic. We push each other. We help each other when we’re feeling down. We compete all the time.
And we have an amazing fan base who has supported us through good and bad. Family and friends…all of this is what makes a great football team.
What’s going to be the difference this year? How are we going to win a state championship?
Everyone working as a team. We’ve seen what it takes to make it to the semi-finals. We’ve worked hard the past couple of seasons, but it just showed us how much harder we needed to work to achieve our final goal. We also need to be smart off the field, keep each other safe, and not make dumb decisions.
Tell me about your teammates.
It’s just a good feeling knowing I have my best friends around me all the time. I’ve needed advice so many times and these guys were always there for me. I only see greatness in all of them, and I always tell them that because I might be getting all this attention but that doesn’t mean that they’re not good because they’re good too. They made me, so I want to help them become whatever they want in life. I sure am blessed to have friends like this, and I thank God for that.
What would you tell young guys coming up about the recruiting process? What have you learned from the process?
Stay level-headed and be humble, because the only reason you’re getting as much attention as you are is because of the wonderful teammates you have. To single yourself out would be selfish. You could never achieve your goals without your teammates.