Spreading some holiday cheer

It’s Christmas night and I’m already on my third viewing of A Christmas Carol in its various versions. Currently, it’s the Muppet Christmas Carol, the version with Michael Caine released in 1989, a family staple right up there with Die Hard and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. In this iteration, Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat run the story. That’s right, even Henson empties the bench in December.

As of this writing, I have endured the Christmas rush like a lead blocker, my wife finding gaps and breaking through lines like Davidson Academy running back Griffin Swinea. We encounter lines nearly as large as Smyrna’s offensive line, using spin moves learned from Ravenwood’s Reggie Grimes and Gallatin’s James Mason. I am waiting for my Gatorade shower, but for now my glass of holiday cheer will suffice.

As I reflect on the past year, I am reminded of how this season began on those sweltering August nights, and count the many gifts I was granted for the 2019-2020 season. I give you my 12 Days of Christmas, prep football edition.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, prep football gave to me…12 more months until the next BlueCross Bowl.

There are only 345 shopping days until the first game of the BlueCross Bowl begins on Thursday morning, Dec. 3. I can’t wait.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, prep football gave to me…11 new venues to see.

That’s right, I had the privilege of visiting 12 locations I had never visited before, each more different and wonderful in its own way. From “The Inferno“ at Blackman, with its shiny new turf, to the friendly confines of Elder Field at Jo Byrns, there were enough wonderful people to meet and kids to watch to fill my particular cup.  

On the tenth day of Christmas, prep football gave to me…10 kickoff returns.

Well, 10 kickoff returns for the TSSAA leader in yards per return… Pearl-Cohn’s Barion Brown. The Firebirds’ speedster averaged 45.9 ypr with 4 touchdowns.

On the ninth day of Christmas, prep football gave to me…nine Neill Kane field goals.

Nine was the number of field goals made by Friendship Christian kicker Neill Kane, #1 in our coverage area and #5 overall according to MaxPreps.

On the eighth day of Christmas, prep football gave to me…Eight-man football possibilities.

Eight-Man Extreme football may be on the horizon for more teams as the off-season moves forward. With more teams having roster and attendance issues, it is becoming a real option. Ezell-Harding took the challenge, and they’re king of that hill now.

On the seventh day of Christmas, prep football gave to me…seven interceptions.

East Robertson’s Tyler Groves recorded 7 interceptions on the season, tying him with three other players for second among Tennessee defensive backs.  

On the sixth day of Christmas, prep football gave to me…six solid QBs.

Six midstate quarterbacks finished in the top-20 in passing yards. Independence’s Ethan Cash led the midstate field generals with 2,527 yards.

On the fifth day of Christmas, prep football gave to me…five scoring stars.

Five Midstate players made the top-25 in scoring. Leaders in the 615 coverage area were led by Stratford’s James “Magic” Moore (third overall per MaxPreps) with 212 points. He was followed by MTCS’ Kemari McGowan, Friendship Christian’s Justin Seagraves, Smith County’s John Ross Hord, Lipscomb Academy’s Jaden Lyles and Watertown’s Deramus Carey.

On the fourth day of Christmas, prep football gave to me…four 1,500-yard rushers.

Four midstate rushers achieved the 1,500-yard mark this year. The “magic” man led the way again with 2,381 yards rushing. He was followed by Kemari McGowan, Fairview’s Logan Nardozzi, and Gallatin’s Spencer Briggs.

On the third day of Christmas, prep football gave to me…three state records and three Mr. Football winners.

That’s right, the 2019-20 season saw three records tied or broken. Andrew Mason of Ravenwood tied the state record for receiving touchdowns with seven against Pulaski (Ark.) Academy.  We also saw “Magic” Moore tie a 38-year-old state record for carries in a game with 56 against East Nashville. We also saw Middle Tennessee Christian’s Kemari McGowan break the record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 442 in his game against Grace Christian.

Also, three Midstate Mr. Football winners were announced. In 3A, James Moore brought home the statue for Stratford. Nolensville dual threat Tim Coutras won it in 4A, torn ACL and all. McGowan brought the award for Division II-A back to Murfreesboro for MTCS.

On the second day of Christmas, prep football gave to me…two talented Wade brothers

The Summit Spartans ended their Cinderella run just short of midnight, taking a third-place region finish and parlaying that into a 5A championship final appearance against Knoxville Central.  That run doesn’t happen without brothers Keaton and Destin Wade, (or the unselfishness of George Odimegwu).  These guys are going to be a force for the next two years, so it will be fun to watch.

On the first day of Christmas, prep football gave to me…one golden ball

One gold ball and one team to wield it…and that team is Davidson Academy. The Bears completed their season as the lone midstate winner, grabbing their second gold ball in as many years. Coach Jonathan Quinn is just getting started too. Griffin Swinea and his returning teammates will be the odds -favorite to win next year.

So, there you have it. Like old Ebenezer himself, I’m counting blessings and trying to keep those “ghosts of seasons past” at bay. As Tiny Tim says, “God bless us, everyone…now is the East/West All-Star game replay on YouTube?”

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