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Archives 12-07-2005


News


We won!
Christmas Parade to be held Saturday
Commodity recipients must be recertified

 

 

We won!

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, for real.

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 half.

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 half.

"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 feeling."

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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Christmas 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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Commodity 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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