LA defeats Lipscomb 28-13 in BlueCross Bowl
Sportswriter applauds efforts of Championship
LA defeats Lipscomb
28-13 in BlueCross Bowl
Leah Thomas/OCN Sports
Livingston's Chase Dunn goes up for 2 of his 11 points scored
against Cannon County in Friday's home win.
By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
With championship football fever still running strong at Livingston
Academy, it might just have been hard to get into basketball action,
but with two wins each last week for the Wildcats and Lady Wildcats,
perhaps it just "caught on".
Just three days after the football team captured the State 3A Championship,
the two hardwood teams took to the floor against arch rival York
and both teams played perhaps the best games of the young season
"We were still in the football mode," Wildcats Coach
Richard Melton said, "but we had to carry on. We are so proud
of the football team.
"I was a little worried before Tuesday's game with York. When
it was over, I felt like we had played our best all around game
of the year.
"We needed a good game out of the kids, and they came through."
Originally, Tuesday's games were scheduled for Jamestown, but incomplete
work on the gym floor forced the game to be moved to Livingston.
The LA girls brought a 4-1 overall and 1-0 district record into
the contest while the boys were 2-4 and 1-0.
Both teams started slowly, then midway through the first quarter,
Justin Monday caught fire, both offensively and on the boards. Before
the first quarter was over, Monday had hit for 8 points, dominated
the rebounding, and the Wildcats were on top 16-14.
Second quarter action proved to be the downfall of the Dragons.
LA freshman Chase Dunn hit for 10 points, Monday added 6 more, and
when the horn sounded at intermission, the Wildcats had outscored
the Dragons 22-6 and raced from a 2-point lead at the end of the
first period to an 18-point advantage at the half.
Senior floor leader Brandon Matthews later pointed out, "The
second period was one of our best of the year. Chase and Justin
really turned it up, and I think the rest of us caught on and played
Dunn and Tyler Smith quickly set the pace early in the third frame
with two straight buckets, Matthews followed with four, and midway
through the period Livingston Academy was up by 20 at 44-24.
In the 77-46 victory, Monday was the leading scorer for the Wildcats
with 20 points, while Dunn followed with 18 and Matthews had 17.
Before the boys got on the floor to do their work, the Lady Cats
had to overcome Brandi Brown, the region's most dominating player
and a 7-0 Lady Dragons record.
LA's Ashley Matthews said after the game, "Brandi is just
a super player. If you want to have any chance to beat York, you
have to at least try to minimize her as best you can."
As she hit for 23 points, Brown was not stopped by the Lady Wildcats,
but Matthews neutralized her by hitting for 23 of her own points
in the 53-46 LA victory.
Lady Wildcats Coach Lesley Smith said, "It was an important
win for us. You can do only so much to stop Brandi, but our kids
responded well. Brandi got her points, but our defense kept the
others from hurting us by playing good defense.
"We got balanced scoring from the rest of our players. Ashley's
23 points were obviously very big."
While Matthews led the LA scoring, it was the balanced scoring
from Jada Ledbetter, 8 points, Haley Mullins, 6, Megan Brown and
Mallie Stephens, 4 each, and Alison West and Rebekah Jackson, 3
each, that spelled the difference.
With the defeat, York fell to 7-1 on the season and 1-1 in the
district, while Livingston moved to 5-1 and 2-0 overall.
On Friday night, Dec. 9, Cannon County came to Livingston for the
third straight district matchup of the young season. The Lady Lions
were 4-5 overall and 0-1 in district play prior to the game.
After the game, Stephens said, "For some reason we just weren't
into it early, but that third period really showed we wanted to
play, and probably it took us that long to adjust to their style
"Once we figured it out, we went on a roll."
Cannon took a 14-10 lead in the first quarter and led by 5 at
27-22 at the half. But in the third period, Livingston poured in
21 points while allowing the visitors only 7.
Brittany McCoin opened the final frame with a layup in the lane,
Stephens then hit two 3-pointers, and the Lady Cats were on their
way to a 64-49 victory.
Matthews said, "Not only did we find the shooting range in
the third period, but we played good defense.
"We have got to continue to improve on defense and rebounding,
and we're working on that very hard. We'll get better and better
as the season goes on."
Mullins led Livingston with 22 points, the most for her this season,
while Matthews added 17 and Stephens dropped in 17.
The win moved LA to 3-0 in the district and 6-1 overall.
In the boys game, it was hard to decide if Cannon felt it would
lose but not by a lot, or it was simply a practice drill of passing
the ball around, but not taking many shots. Whatever the reason
for the slow play, it didn't stop the Wildcats from coming away
with a 53-30 victory, their fourth win of the year against four
losses and their third straight district win.
Lance Ruble later said, "I really don't know what they were
thinking about, but I guess the biggest thing they did was hold
the score down. We never really got into a rhythm, but when we needed
the points we got them."
Livingston jumped out to a 15-5 lead in the first period, then
held the Lions to 5 points in two of the final three quarters. Only
in the third, when they hit three 3-pointers, did the visitors score
in double figures, with 15.
In the meantime, Livingston Academy hit for 13 in the second period
to lead 28-10 at half time, and hit 11 and 12 in the final two periods.
Coach Melton said, "They passed the ball around a lot, but
in doing so, they didn't get many shots. And although the low scoring
didn't make us look all that good on the floor, we got some good
performances out of our guards, Dunn and Todd Smith. They took charge
on the floor, and I was glad to see that."
Ruble led the LA attack with 13 points while Dunn added 11 to be
the only Wildcats in double figures.
Before the game, Matthews said he felt like his team would score
well, but when it was over, he had a better view of the outcome.
"They just threw it around, and it probably kept us from scoring
a lot tonight," Matthews explained. "It didn't keep us
from winning, and that's the big picture. We didn't rebound as good
as we would have liked, but again, we won, and that was what was
After hosting Cookeville on Monday, Dec. 12, the Wildcats and Lady
Wildcats will travel to Smithville on Friday, Dec. 16 to take on
DeKalb County for a final district matchup before hitting the Christmas
tournament trail, with the first stop at Cookeville for the MidSouth
Classic on December 19-22.
Two days after Christmas, the Lady Wildcats will travel to Greeneville
for the Greene County Tournament, and the Wildcats will journey
to Nashville's East Literature Magnet School on December 28 for
the East Literature Tournament.
When the Christmas break is over, the two Wildcats teams will be
on the road for three straight contests, not returning home until
January 17 for a big district game with Upperman.
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efforts of Championship Wildcats
By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
Sitting around on cold winter nights gives a person a lot of time
to think about things, and I'm no exception. When the sun goes down
at 4:30 in the afternoon and it's still three and a half hours until
I can use my cell phone free, I tend to get into the habit of watching
The only thing wrong with watching the news around here is what
you hear at 4:30 you get repeated at 5, and what they tell you at
5, you hear again at 6, and the "teasers" they hang you
with that may really be something you want to see will be on at
10. Well, with total darkness at 4:30, I'm certainly sound asleep
So, while you watch the weather 10 times in less than an hour,
take a short nap and wake up only to be still watching the weather,
there's plenty of time to let your mind wander off to something
First off, there's still a couple things that need to be said about
this year's Livingston Academy State 3A Championship team. Since
there are five classes in Tennessee, and Livingston won at the 3
level, why are they ranked 8th in the final poll? Beats me. My guess
is they should be, that's right, 3rd.
But then again, I didn't get a vote. But if I had, then whoever
won the 5A title would be number 1; the 4A title number 2, and so
forth and so on. After all, when all the dust had settled, they
were the winners, and losers don't count.
And another thing. This "Cinderella" thing has rubbed
me wrong for a long time. Livingston wasn't a Cinderella team at
all. They were good from the very get-go. The Wildcats were 11-2
last season, and returned 15 seniors. If they had to have a “tag”
then it would have been "slow starters". Once they got
it rolling, nothing could stop them.
I'd be willing to bet that David Lipscomb felt more like they were
beheaded by Attila the Hun than run over by a pumpkin.
And how about LA star Wilson Cates not even being nominated for
"Mr. Football"? If there's a better all-around player
in Tennessee high school football, I'd like to see him.
No disrespect to the 3A player who won the award, but sorry, he
ain't it. The young man played for White House and rushed for over
1,700 yards this past season, a remarkable feat to say the least,
but let's just take a serious look how Cates matched up.
On the season, Wilson rushed for 1,516 yards. Now that's not 1,700,
but it's darn close. In addition to that, Cates threw for another
942 that included 9 touchdowns. Now 1,516 and 942 come to 2,458
total offensive yards - a lot more than 1,700.
But we're not through. No sir. In addition to his playing time
on the field as quarterback for the Wildcats, he also played in
the LA defensive secondary and is credited with 138 solo tackles.
So out of 48 minutes of a regular football game, Cates is on the
field 48 minutes.
Oh yeah, Wilson also punted for a 38-yard average. He averaged
21 yards per carry on kickoff returns and 20 yards per carry on
punt returns. By the way, he scored 118 points, too.
So who's Mr. Football in 3A high school football this year? Some
young man from White House got the trophy, but the main reason was,
he lived close enough to Nashville to get the needed press coverage.
In my book, it wasn't even close.
And there's another thing that needs to be addressed: Coach of
With Cates not being named Player of the Year and Livingston finishing
8th in the final poll, it looks as if Livingston Academy Head Coach
Matt Eldridge hasn't got a prayer. Hopefully somebody, somewhere
will finally realize that Livingston Academy was a super team in
2005 with outstanding players and a coaching staff that didn't just
drive the bus to the games.
Some would say that with the players on this year's team, it was
easy to be a good coach. After all, Eldridge and his staff had just
about every player back from a team that went 11-2 last year and
to the third round of the playoffs.
Nothing could be further from the truth. For sure the players were
there, but the one thing that has to be realized was that suddenly,
Livingston, a small community stuck way back on the Cumberland Plateau,
was thrown into a new region this fall with the likes of some of
the best teams historically in the state.
No longer did the Wildcats get to play Cannon County, Jackson
County, etc. Now they had to face all the powerhouse schools around
Knoxville such as Catholic, Fulton, and Austin East. It was still
3A football, but at a much higher level.
"This year our players had to go into every game with the
knowledge that they could no longer expect to make even a single
mistake, and win," Eldridge said early in the year. "Our
kids have to play every play knowing that the opposition is bigger
and quicker than anything they have faced before."
In order for that to happen, Eldridge and his staff of Danny McCoin,
David Clouse, Bruce Lamb, Grant Swallows, and Bobby Gore, had to
make some changes just to be respectable.
"We knew we had the talent, but we also knew that each week
we all had to work a little harder than we had before," the
coach pointed out later in the year. "If you stay the same
in this region, you get whipped."
So changes were made. Despite an up and down regular season, the
Wildcats won the games they had to win, when they had to win them,
and every player on the team was quick to point out that there were
Cates pointed out late in the season that the coaches had made
some big changes in the way the option was run and also how the
defense had to react. When it came to "crunch time", the
changes led to victories and victories led to the state title.
"I would have to say we (the coaching staff) probably had
to work harder this year than we did last year, simply because our
opponents were much better," Eldridge pointed out. "We
could no longer expect to jump out to a 40-0 lead at half time and
then let the players rest. Not this year."
And although it was basically the same three offensive plays -
up the middle and the option around either end, it took timing and
execution to make it happen.
It took coaching, and Eldridge was the man that made the changes
happen. He recognized what needed to be done and saw to it that
it got done - the job of a head coach.
Cates didn't get the top honor and the team didn't finish high
enough in the final poll. If the old saying of "two wrongs
don't make a right" has any credibility, then hopefully the
right thing will be done this time around and Matt Eldridge will
be named 3A Coach of the Year.
And finally, there's a group of young men that need to have their
While Cates, Vaughn, Ford, Coffee and all the others were getting
their names in the papers and on the radio, there was another group
that worked just as hard, just as long, but spent most Friday nights
watching from the sidelines: the rest of the team.
I know what it's like to be a "tackling dummy". Way
back in my high school days, I went out for the football team, but
just wasn't big enough to play much. I went to a big high school,
and our team won a lot of games, but I spent most of my practice
time holding the big bags while the first and second team linemen
"knocked me down".
Maybe my time would have come, but I didn't stick around to find
So to all of you who spent every afternoon being run over by the
first team and who cheered every Friday night from the sidelines,
here's a hats off to you. The state championship is just as much
yours as anybody's.
To Jonathan Sullivan, Clint Cooper, Josh Simpson, Joe Reynolds,
Cody Waddey, Dustin Looper, Jonathan Brown, Josh Huitt, Colton Hummel,
Kevin Scott, Jordan Bailey, Gary Massengille, Josh Coffee, Kiefer
Smith, Sam Nelson, Jeremiah Jackson, Terrance Melton, David Petry,
Blake Moon, Levi Cobble, Colby Loftis, Brad Pendergraft, Jesse Cole,
Josh Looper, Bobby Perdue, Ethan Livingston, John Willeford, Justin
Gore, and Jacob Collins, here's a special "thank you".
Now the job will be passed on to you. Next year your time will
come, and we'll be looking to you on Friday nights to get the job
done. You were lucky enough to get to play with the best, now it
will be your turn to carry on the tradition. You may have thought
you weren't all that important, but you were.
Be ready next fall.
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Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570