to be held Saturday
Commodity recipients must be recertified
Dewain E. Peek/OCN Sports
The Livingston Academy Wildcats hoist the BlueCross Bowl trophy
high after taking the TSSAA Class 3A State Championship in a 28-13
win over David Lipscomb High School. A switch to Region 2-3A produced
a 5-5 regular season record, but then Coach Matt Eldridge’s team
learned from the losses and became an unstoppable force in the playoffs
and the championship game. The struggle for excellence paid off
on Saturday, Dec. 3.
By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
Five weeks ago, standing on the field at Strawberry Plains, Livingston
Academy assistant coach Bobby Gore was discussing the situation
of the playoffs in high school football and his own future.
"I'm like the seniors on this team," said
Gore, a veteran of 27 seasons of coaching. "This is my last
year of coaching, so when we lose, it's over. I just hope we can
go five more weeks. That would take us to the state championship."
From that point on, Gore and the Wildcats seniors
knew a loss would end their season, a playing career for most and
the end of a coaching career.
"Well, we get one more week," the coach
would say after each of the following four Friday nights, as the
Wildcats, who finished the regular season at 5-5 paraded through
the playoffs with victories over Carter High, Austin East, Knoxville
Catholic and Notre Dame of Chattanooga.
This past Saturday, before a tremendous crowd of Livingston
Academy fans gathered at Middle Tennessee State University's Johnny
"Red" Floyd Stadium for the state's Class 3A championship
game between the Wildcats and favored David Lipscomb, Coach Gore,
his family of Livingston Academy coaches - Danny McCoin, David Clouse,
Bruce Lamb, Dale Flatt, Grant Swallows and head coach Matt Eldridge,
all stood on the artificial turf of Horace Jones Field, a place
where no other Livingston Academy team has ever been, and tried
to soak in the moment.
Coach Eldridge said, "We're a little nervous,
but we'll be just fine. This team is ready to do what it started
out to do way back in the hot days of summer- win the state championship.
"Lipscomb is a very good team and they have been
here before, but our kids just won't be denied. If we can stick
to our game plan and don't make any critical mistakes, we'll win."
Two and a half hours later, the team that didn't seem
to have a chance when the playoffs started was celebrating its first-ever
state football championship.
Gore stated with a smile that ran from ear to ear,
"Well, it's over now, but what a way to go out. It was just
luck. This group of young men decided a long time ago that nothing
short of a state championship would do. It was an incredible ride,
and I'm so thankful they took me along."
Marked as a "Cinderella team" in all the
media reports from the outset of the playoffs, the Wildcats proved
once and for all that they were not a mythical team, but were indeed,
It only took the Wildcats 7 plays and 6 minutes into
the contest to establish which team, on this day, was the best.
When Wilson Cates hit Jake Peterman with a 6-yard pass to cap a
65-yard drive on their first offensive series of the game, the impression
of Lipscomb being almost impossible to score on went sailing out
of the stadium.
Seven offensive plays later, on their second possession,
the Cats did it again. Jamey Vaughn bulled right up the middle from
3 yards out and Jonathan McGill was true on his second conversion
try, and to the utter dismay of the opposition, Livingston was on
top 14-0. And almost 12 minutes still remained to play in the first
On the Cats' third possession, Vaughn did it again,
this time capping a 46-yard drive with a 4-yard blast over the right
side. With 8:46 left in the second period, Livingston Academy was
on top 21-0, and Lipscomb would never recover.
Cates, the game's Most Valuable Offensive Player,
observed afterwards, "We weren't used to being out front so
quick. Most of the season, we had come from behind in the second
"This is just tremendous," the talented
quarterback continued. "This is such a complete team effort,
and I'm just thankful to be a part of it.
"Most of us have played together since we were
about 10 years-old, so this championship goes back a long way.
"When the season started, I really thought we
could go undefeated, or at worst, lose one or two games, but when
we went up and down, we never, ever doubted that we would get to
this game today. We just knew we were good enough, and we came back
after every loss.
"Once we got into the playoffs, there was never
a doubt we would be here. After we defeated Catholic, we all knew
we were going to win the state title."
In the locker room after the game, senior lineman
Jacob Coffee had tears streaming down his face.
"This is such an emotional situation," the
soft-spoken Coffee stated as he searched for the right words at
the right time. "Winning the state championship is a dream
come true. It's something all of us have wanted since we started
playing football. But at the same time, this is the final game for
us and that's kinda sad. I wish it could just go on forever."
A few lockers down, Wade Ford, another Wildcats lineman,
was savoring the moment.
"We never even consider anything but winning,"
the defensive standout explained. "We felt we were better than
Lipscomb long before we got off the bus.
"The great thing about this is we did it as one
team. Every player that went on that field did exactly what he was
supposed to do. We didn't make any major mistakes today, and we
have known all season long that it was only a mistake here or there
that cost us a perfect season.
"They (Lipscomb) were good, but they weren't
as good as we were," Ford added.
The "never lost for words" offensive line
coach, Bruce Lamb, exclaimed in the locker room, "I'm just
lost for words.
"I will find the words though for our offensive
line. They were absolutely incredible out there today.
"Beau (Massengale), Curtis (Beaty), Jacob (Coffee),
Robert (Holt), and Wade (Ford) never made a mistake all day, I don't
think. Those guys are not only physical; they are so mentally strong.
It's like having five extra coaches on the field.
"And I have to put in a word for Jesse Cole.
Jesse didn't even play today, but his play against Notre Dame when
Wade got hurt sure went a long way to getting us here today."
And then there was the offensive attack. With Cates,
Vaughn, and Jake Reeder, along with receivers Jake Peterman, Tyler
Livingston, and Levi Holt, the 28 points weren't a total surprise.
In the locker room after the game, Vaughn explained,
"I guess that was as determined as I have ever played. On the
two plays where I scored, there was no way I wasn't going to get
in. Up front, we got the blocking we needed, and whoever got the
ball, it was up to them to make it happen, and we made it happen.
"Jake (Reeder), I think, really surprised them
with his running up the middle, and that really made it a little
easier for Wilson and I to run the option.
"This is a great moment for all of us. We worked
hard to get here and once we got here, we made it all work."
Holt had one of his career highlights when he hauled
in a 34-yard from Cates after it was tipped by a defender.
"I'll never forget that one," Holt said.
"It made up for a lot of those I dropped during the season.
Today, I told myself that if the ball came to me, be sure you catch
it before you run, and on that play I had to keep my eyes on the
ball while it was bouncing in the air, then grab it. Man, what a
Tyler Livingston pulled in a 26-yard catch in the
first period that went a long way towards the games' first score.
"This is just tremendous," the big receiver
smiled. "I guess the only thing left now is to help the basketball
team win a state title. Then I could put one in each hand."
And Cates had a performance to end a career that will
be remembered as long as football is played at Livingston Academy.
The holder of numerous school records, the game's MVP, the collector
of all types of awards over his 4-year career, went out in style.
On the final offensive play of his star-studded career,
Cates crashed into the endzone from the 2 yard line to ice the victory,
a fitting end to a fabulous career.
"I haven't even thought of it like that,"
Cates beamed as he congratulated teammates after the game. "At
the time, it was just another play, and I really didn't care if
it were me, Jamey, or Jake who got the ball. I just wanted the touchdown.
"I've been playing football since I was 10, and
it ends up like this - state champions. That's great.
"This is a total team effort by every member
of this team, and I'm just thankful I was able to be a part of it.
I did all I could do, and every one of them did all they could do,
and it paid off.
"State champs - what else can you say?"
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Parade to be held Saturday
The 2005 Overton County Christmas Parade will be held
Saturday, Dec. 10. This year's theme is "Christmas - Through
a Child's Eye".
The parade will begin at 3 p.m. at the intersection
of the Highway 111 bypass and Highway 294, near Livingston Limestone.
The parade will continue onto East Main Street to Broad Street,
across the town square, to Oak Street. The parade will disperse
at Overton County Medical Center on Oak Street.
Line-up will begin at 1 p.m. on the bypass, from the
intersection of Highway 294 back toward Tennessee Technology Center.
No entries will be allowed in the parade without an
official entry number properly displayed.
The following 24 categories will be featured in this
year's parade: Antique Cars (cars up to 1949), ‘50s Cars (cars 1950
- 1959), Muscle Car Era (cars 1960 - 1974), Modern Era Cars (cars
1975 and Up), Antique Trucks (trucks up to 1959), Classic Trucks
(trucks 1960 - 1975), Modern Era Trucks (trucks 1975 and up), Large
Business and Industry (over 9 employees), Small Business and Industry
(9 employees and under), Churches, Scout Troops, Fire and Rescue
Departments, Children Under 12, Children 12 and Older, School Groups,
Sports Affiliations Groups, ATVs, Motorcycles, Bands, Antique Tractors,
Civic Clubs and Veteran's Organizations, Wagons and Buggies, Horse
with Female Rider, and Horse with Male Rider. A Judge's Award and
the Grand Marshall's Award will be presented.
Judging will be conducted along the parade route,
and winners will be announced.
For more information call Livingston-Overton County
Chamber of Commerce at (931) 823-6421.
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recipients must be recertified
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released new
Temporary Emergency Food Program products for the 2006 commodity
distributions, according to Phyllis R. Bennett, executive director
of Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency.
Commodities are surplus agricultural items that are
given back to American families through government agencies.
In the Upper Cumberland region, UCHRA distributes
commodities in Cannon, Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Overton,
Pickett, Putnam, Warren, White, and Van Buren counties.
Rebecca Hitchcock, commodity director, explained,
"UCHRA holds distributions every other month, with several
hours of distribution at each location."
Recertification must be complete before the 2006 distribution
in order for community members to receive commodities.
This recertification process is scheduled for Hanging
Limb and Livingston on January 3-31 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
at the UCHRA office located on 106 West Henson in Livingston.
"We encourage you to bring the appropriate documentation
and make arrangements to come by during the above dates," Hitchcock
continued. "This will allow you convenient service without
having to wait in those long lines. Please call for an appointment."
Individuals and families receiving commodities through
UCHRA must be recertified each year to maintain their eligibility.
Persons who receive either food stamps, Families First, SSI, LIHEAP,
or who live in public housing must present proof that they participate
in these programs. Then they are automatically eligible for commodities
and/or completion of a signed, self-declaration income statement
that the total amount of household income is below 150% of the current
income poverty guidelines.
Anyone who wishes to have someone else complete their
recertification must send a note with the person, authorizing him
or her to do so.
USDA's Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program
is available to all recipients regardless of race, color, national
origin, age, sex, or handicap.
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Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570