Overton County News Overton County News - An Award Winning Newspaper - Livingston, Tennessee
homeabout ussubscriptionskids cornerlocal linkscontact us
News
Events
Society
80 Years Ago
Obituaries
Sports
Weather
Classifieds
Archives
 
 
 
 

Sports

Football Preview '07 Page 2


Wildcats looking to improve offense
Marching band preparing for game time
Many ‘Cats to play both offense and defense
Improvements made to football stadium
Just Thinkin' by Mac McLeod
Livingston Academy Cheerleaders

top of page

Wildcats looking to improve offense

Livingston Academy Wildcats

This year’s Running backs are front row from left, #39 Dillon Roberts, #28 Robert Mathis, #36 Tyler Peek, #44 John Burkett, #21 Paul Daniels, #27 Kyle Lee, #40 Dalton Daniels, back row, #25 Colton Hummel, #15 Ethan McDonald, #30 Gary Massengille, #32 Kiefer Smith, #20 Steven Morgan, and #22 John Cody Brown.

Quarterback is the key to the success of any football team and experience can make a difference. This season the Wildcats will rely on two youngsters Brannon McCoin (left) and Hayden Hill (right) to get the job done. McCoin is a sophomore with a solid year of experience behind him while Hill, who has show promise in early season practice, is only a freshman. Both are expected to see action throughout the season and both are expected to improve as the year progresses.

 

By MAC McLEOD,
OCN Sports

Football, regardless of the level its played on, is a two-sided contest with one side trying to get the ball into the endzone and the other side trying to keep them from doing it. Presented the right circumstances, both sides can score, but for the most part it all comes down to the offensive backfield.

At Livingston Academy, offense has become almost a tradition along with winning. In recent years the Wildcats teams have set several offensive records, including longest winning streak (10), most points in a season (402), most yards rushing ( (4,027), most wins over a two, three, and four year period, most points in a single season (170), single most rushing yards in a season (1,512), and on and on.

Last season those traditions took a side track for several reasons, but this year, the team is determined to get back to its record-setting ways.

“We don’t talk much about last year,” pointed out last year’s quarterback Brannon McCoin, “but we have to remember we played last year, and it wasn’t what any of us wanted. We had a lot to overcome, and it was tough, but this year, I think things will be much better.”

McCoin should know as well or better how difficult it is to come back after a state championship season.

As a freshman last season, he felt like he would be watching more than he would be playing, but in the final scrimmage of the pre-season, starting quarterback Levi Holt suffered an injury, and suddenly, he was the guy.
“That was kinda scary,” the soft spoken signal caller recalls. “It didn’t take me long to realize that football at the high school level was so much faster and so much more difficult than it was in middle school.”

To add to McCoin’s problems last year were injuries and a sudden break in team morale. Things went from bad to worse, but in the end, those players who returned this season learned some valuable lessons.

Running back Steve Morgan pointed out, “I got hurt again and that didn’t help matters. I was really looking forward to getting in a lot of playing time, and then I got hurt for the third time in three years.

“Hopefully this year I can stay healthy. I love playing this game and I think this year we have really come together and will have something to show for the effort.”

Eight players are set to battle for starting positions in the Wildcat backfield this season. In addition to McCoin and Morgan, Kiefer Smith, Ethan McDonald, John Cody Brown, Hayden Hill, Colton Hummel, and Gary Massengille will all battle for starting spots.

LA head coach Grant Swallows said, “We have some talent there. Obviously, we have more experience here than last year, and that will help, plus this group has the desire we are looking for in running backs. Barring injuries, we should be good in this area.”

Learning new formations, going through different drills, and having one-on-one meetings with the coaching staff has put new fire in this year’s players, and they can’t wait for the first game.

Massengille explained, “We definitely think we can move the ball. There are a lot of new things here this year, like a new coach, a new principal, a newly painted stadium, and on and on, and we certainly want to be a new backfield that can take the ball from one end of the field to the other and score.

“We are going to reinvent the tradition here, and we can’t wait to get started.”

According to Smith, the team is ready.

“We are more mature, and we don’t want to go through what we went through last year,” the junior explained. “Our coaches have presented us with a challenge, and they have also given us a method of working towards the goal of being good again. That has really helped.

“We are still young as football teams go, but we believe in our coaches and we have a strong respect for our teammates. I really think fans will see a new LA football team this fall.”

In the spring game this year, Hummel had a strong showing, and in practice Hill has come on strong as a freshman quarterback. Along with McDonald, they should see plenty of playing time.

With a sheepish grin, Hill said, “I’m trying to learn as fast as I can. I saw what happened to Brannon last year, and I realize I’m in that same boat this year. In football, you are only one play away from starting, so you have to be ready. If you aren’t, this really isn’t the game for you.

“I have a lot to learn being a freshman, but the coaches are working hard with us so when the time comes, we can get the job done.”

Last year, the Wildcats scored 64 points while giving up 370 – not a winning season combination. If they learned anything from last year it was you have to score more and give up less.

Massengille concluded, “We learned that the hard way, and we won’t repeat it. They say experience is a very good teacher and we certainly learned a lot from that.”

LA Wildcats 2007 Schedule

Aug. 24 Smith Co. 7:00 p.m. Home
Aug. 31 Trousdale Co. 7:00 p.m. Away
Sept. 7 Kingston High School 7:00 p.m. Home
Sept. 21 Knox. Catholic 6:30 p.m. Away
Sept. 28 York Institute 7:00 p.m. Away
Oct. 5 Austin East High School 7:30 p.m. Home
Oct. 12 Scott Co. 6:30 p.m. Away
Oct. 19 Anderson Co. 7:00 p.m. Home
Oct. 26 Stone Memorial 7:30 p.m. Home
Nov. 2 Fulton High School 6:30 p.m. Away
Nov. 9 1st Round TSSAA Playoffs 7:00 p.m. TBA
Nov. 16 2nd Round TSSAA Playoffs 7:00 p.m. TBA
Nov. 23 3rd Round TSSAA Playoffs 7:00 p.m. TBA
Nov. 30 4th Round TSSAA Playoffs 7:00 p.m. TBA
Dec. 8 BlueCross Bowl noon TBA

2007 Football Team Roster

JERSEY # PLAYER’S NAME HEIGHT WEIGHT POSITION GRADE
1 Blake Moon 5’9 135 WR/DB 11
2 Johnathon Sullivan 5’8 160 WR/DB 12
3 Hayden Hill 5’10 145 QB/DB 9
4 Jamie Cravens 5’9 190 TE/LB 12
5 Brandon Roberts 5’7 135 WR/DB 12
6 Dustin Wylie 6’0 160 WR/DB 9
7 Dylan Ashlock 5’11 160 WR/DB 10
8 Brannon McCoin 5’11 145 QB/DB 10
9 Jonathan Bull 5’9 140 OL/DL 9
10 Cody Waddey 5’8 135 WR/DB 11
11 Dylan Harris 5’4 145 WR/DB 10
13 Matt Holt 6’2 180 WR/LB 10
14 David Winningham 6’0 150 WR/DB 10
15 Ethan McDonald 5’8 165 RB/DB 10
16 Ty Eldridge 6’0 146 WR/DB 10
17 Josh Scott 5’10 155 WR/DB 11
18 Jesse Hammock 6’1 170 WR/DB 10
19 Paxton Eldridge 5’6 140 WR/DB 9
20 Steven Morgan 5’10 175 RB/DB 12
21 Paul Daniels 5’9 150 RB/LB 9
22 John Cody Brown 5’7 155 RB/LB 11
23 Cody Stafford 5’10 175 WR/LB 10
24 Josh Huitt 5’9 145 WR/DB 11
25 Colton Hummel 5’7 155 RB/LB 11
27 Kyle Lee 5’9 135 RB/LB 9
28 Robert Mathis 5’6 130 RB/DB 10
29 Justin Savage 5’8 160 TE/LB 9
30 Gary Massengille 5’11 200 RB/LB 12
31 Cody Adkins 5’4 160 TE/DL 12
32 Kiefer Smith 6’0 205 RB/LB 11
36 Tyler Peek 5’5 135 RB/DL 9
39 Dillon Roberts 5’4 125 RB/DB 9
40 Dalton Daniels 5’5 160 RB/LB 10
41 Kevin McGregor 5’10 185 TE/DL 9
43 Tracy McDonald 5’10 205 TE/DL 10
44 John Burkett 5’5 165 RB/LB 11
50 George Fordyce 6’2 275 OL/DL 11
52 Tyler Gore 5’9 175 OL/DL 9
53 Ridge Harris 5’11 200 OL/LB 10
55 Brad Pendergraft 6’3 230 OL/DL 12
56 Jake Beu 5’9 250 OL/DL 10
57 Terrence Melton 6’0 230 OL/DL 11
58 Josh Beaty 6’0 250 OL/DL 10
59 Jacob Collins 5’11 220 OL/DL 11
60 Josh Looper 6’0 250 OL/DL 11
62 Seth Kilgore 6’1 235 OL/DL 10
66 Ethan Livingston 5’9 210 OL/DL 11
67 Carl Sanders 5’7 180 OL/LB 9
69 John Willeford 6’3 285 OL/DL 12
70 J.W. Lee 5’11 250 OL/DL 9
71 Daniel Miller 5’10 245 OL/DL 10
73 Jordan Danner 5’11 245 OL/DL 10
74 Talon Sircy 5’11 285 OL/DL 10
75 Justin Hill 5’10 220 OL/DL 10
77 Christian Dillon 5’11 165 OL/DL 9
79 Vance Robinson 5’6 165 TE/DL 10
80 Zach Green 6’0 170 TE/LB 9
81 Carson Bailey 5’1 105 WR/DB 9
85 Daniel Robinson 5’6 140 WR/DB 9
86 Justin Ledbetter 5’4 125 WR/DB 9
88 Stenson Smith 5’8 150 WR/DB 11

COACHING STAFF

Head Coach
Grant Swallows

Assistant Coaches
Dale Flatt
Mark Houser
Matthan Houser
Bruce Lamb
Mark Ogletree
Pat Swallows
Mark Winningham

Managers
Demetria Ashlock
Brittany Bowers
Kaitlin Coleman
Toni Coleman
Sara Sullivan
Autumn Webb
Katelyn Webb

Filmers
Andrew Neff
Taylor Thompson

Athletic Trainer
Brooks Cherry

top of page

Marching band preparing for game time

To get it right for Friday nights, the Livingston Academy band, just like the LA football team, spends hours practicing in the parking lot so it will be perfect for the halftime performances. Under the direction of Josh Trent, the band will feature music from “England” this fall during their performances. Like the football team, the band is in a growing mode with more than 45 musicians dressing out this year.

By MAC McLEOD,
OCN Sports

“Sure is hot out there,” one man said to his sidekick as they watched early August football practice at Livingston Academy, “I don’t see how they stand the heat.”

Football practice in early August is a tough ordeal, to say the least, but had the two fans simply turned around and looked about 150 yards they would have seen the LA Marching Band doing almost the very same thing, perhaps not as physical, but on asphalt.

And the similarities don’t stop there. Like the sport of football, a marching band has a playbook, must perform in precise movement, memorize formations, and while not trying to score a touchdown, it has to play music .
“It’s a lot like football,” pointed out LA band director Josh Trent. “We’re out here every day practicing formation, drills, and going over some 30 different ‘plays’ in the playbook. Over there (football practice), they go through the drills hoping to get it right and over here we do the same thing. We have to get it right as well.”

Trent is entering his second season as director at LA, having shared that position last year with Greg Dingwall. In his 10 years working with high school bands, Trent has seen action at DeKalb County as well as Clay County.

“I started playing music in the sixth grade and have simply loved it ever since,” the director continued. “I love working with these kids, and we are making so much progress; it almost doesn’t seem like work , but we start here early in the morning and will be here long after dark. You have to love it.”

Trent is assisted this year by his wife, Carol, and Jonathan Holland and Chelsea Smith.

This year, 43 hopefuls turned out to try to make the band, a number that has been increasing for the past several years. Trent is fully aware that the band was at a low several years ago, but with work in the middle schools and a dedicated program at the high school, a lot of progress has been made, and more is expected.

“We now have good programs in the county’s middle schools, and they are sending us more and more musicians every year,” Trent pointed out. “It’s just like the Outlaws and Junior Wildcats in football. The kids get a good early start in music, and when they get here, they know how to play. So we now have to teach them to march.”

And that may be the hardest part.

Playing and marching are two different things. Playing sometimes comes natural while marching requires memorizing counts, formations, and directions, which can get complicated.

Trent pointed out that the band has over 30 formations it works on, and will use a lot of them over the football season and in parades around the area.
“We practice long and hard so that on Friday nights, the fans will be rewarded at halftime with a good performance,” Trent continued. “This year, we’re going with a theme of British rock songs from bands like The Who, The Animals, Moody Blues, and others. We’re calling it Knights of British Rock.

“We’re excited about the program and we’re excited about being a vital part of the team and the Friday night activities. We’ll play before the game, at halftime, and when we think the team may need a little lift. We’re part of the program, and like the cheerleaders and the ballplayers, we’re representing Livingston Academy and we want to be something the school and the community can be proud of.”

To raise funds to support the program, band members have various fundraisers throughout the year, like a cake walk, car washes, picking up trash at the Bluegrass Festival, and from concessions at the ball games, which is done by the band’s Booster Club. The school system also provides a budget for the band.

“It takes a lot of money to do what we do,” the director stated. “A single uniform runs about $400, and the big instruments, which the school furnishes, can cost up to $7,000.

“Also, if a kid needs an instrument and can’t afford it, we don’t let money prevent him or her from playing. We just feel it’s that important, and we get the money somewhere.”

They are all one big team representing Livingston and Livingston Academy, and win, lose or draw on the playing field, the band will be right there giving its support.

top of page

Many ‘Cats to play both offense and defense

The 2007 LA Wildcat Coaching Staff consists of Mark Winningham, Mark Ogletree, Dale Flatt, Grant Swallows, head coach, Matthan Houser, Pat Swallows, Mark Houser. Not pictured: Bruce Lamb

By MAC McLEOD,
OCN Sports

He may only be a junior, but big George Fordyce has learned a lot about a team, and he’ll be the first to tell you:’ There is no ‘I’ in team.
Fordyce, along with John Willeford, Josh Looper, Gary Massengille, and Cody Stafford will play a key role both offensively and defensively this season when the 2007 edition of the Livingston Academy Wildcats take to the field Friday night, Aug. 24 hoping to regain the form that has, over the years, made LA one of the most respected and feared teams in the state.
Josh Looper pointed out, “We are bigger, faster, have more experience and we are ready to get going. There have been a lot of changes here this year, and we just feel better about where we’re supposed to be, when we’re supposed to be there, and how to make a good block or tackle.

“I won’t predict what our record will be, simply because we play in a tough league, but I will tell you with confidence, we will be a good, solid team this year.”

By nature of the size of the school, Livingston Academy will count on several players going both ways this fall, but that’s nothing new. For years now, good athletes are called on to get the job done.

“We know a lot of us will play a lot of minutes,” pointed out running back Massengille who will play running back on offense and linebacker on defense.

At 6-1, 220, he has the size and speed to play both.

“Knowing you have to play both ways tells you that you have got to be in good shape,” he said. “Everybody on this team has worked hard this summer getting in shape, and those early days of practice I think showed it. This is a new team and it wants to get the job done.”

Willeford, 6-1, 230, will be a key anchor on both offense and defense, and the senior has the talent and experience to get the job done.

“And he has developed into a team leader and that’s what we are looking for,” explained head coach Grant Swallows. “John has taken that roll and he is taking it seriously.

“Leadership is a quality every team has to have, and over the years we have had someone step up and do it. Wilson (Cates) did it for several years, and now someone else has to do it.”

Although only a sophomore, Stafford will be called on heavily at linebacker to make big plays.

“Every position is important, and learning that position is critical,” the young player said. “Right now, everybody seems to be in control of himself and his position, and we have come together real quick this summer. Losing wasn’t any fun, so I think this year you will see a team that wants to have fun, and winning is the best way to have it.”

Practice has been intense this summer, and players and coaches alike have been pleased with the way things have been going.

Swallows said, “Naturally, we have had some bad days, but we have had more good ones than bad, and that’s good. This team came in here ready to get down to business, and it has shown in practice.

“We’ll see when the season starts, but for now these kids have done everything we as coaches have asked them to do.

“Our defense and our offense has got to be much better than it was, and we know that. You can’t win games with two or even three touchdowns and you allow the opponents 40 and 50 points. I think we have good size and good speed on the line and in the secondary. We need to stay healthy and we have to stay intense.

“I guess right now I would like to see some of our players get a little meaner, but that will come when somebody knocks them down a few times.

“To compete in this league at this level requires total dedication, and this group seems to want to give it that. Pulling together as a team and keeping the discipline football requires will go a long way this season.

“Right now I can’t say how many games we’ll win, but I can say without doubt that me and the coaching staff truly believe this team will not get down, win, lose or draw. They are a really good group of youngsters,” Swallows concluded.

Looper added, “We’re going to the ball and are tackling like we should. We’re determined to be a team others will respect. And we will get better as the season goes along.”

top of page

Improvements made to football stadium


It takes a lot of work to get ready for high school football. Here workers are hard at it in 100 degree temperatures getting Tom Davis Stadium in shape for Friday night’s opener. The stadium had a complete renovation this summer including a new paint job and lighting improvement.

top of page

Just Thinkin'
by Mac McLeod

Believe it or not, in a few days the 2007 edition of the Livingston Academy Wildcats will take to the gridiron, opening this season with rival Smith County. Having had little success with the Owls over the past few years, even with teams that should have and did win state championships, this will indeed prove a punishing opener. It will go a long way to show what new head coach Grant Swallows can look forward too.

I said it last year and we will say it again: Livingston Academy is still rebounding from the 2006 State Championship team and will again be rebuilding. Last season everything that could go wrong did go wrong, even before the season started. After posting a 10-5 record and the state crown the year before, new head coach Danny McCoin was faced with the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen.

Then, in a scrimmage game, his only veteran quarterback suffered a dislocated shoulder and for more than half the season the young Wildcats struggled. Freshman Brannon McCoin did a respectable job , but being a freshman quarterback in the state’s toughest region was not an easy assignment, and when it was over, Livingston was 1-9 and the coach resigned under criticism from all corners.

The sad part of that story was McCoin, a very qualified coach, was the victim of a previous team’s high standards, and in high school sports, good teams one year often lead to less than successful teams the following year. It was a plain case of GRADUATION.

With two thirds of the state championship lost to graduation, McCoin and his staff struggled to keep the team focused, and the final outcome was less than exciting. McCoin probably knew what he and his staff could do the next year, but some in higher places apparently couldn’t wait.


Now the task will fall on another outstanding LA player and coach who will get more understanding from the fans than McCoin did. In his playing years at LA, Swallows set all kinds of offensive records and went on to play outstanding ball at Tennessee Tech. He was part of the staff of the 2006 championship team, but now he inherits a team that is only one year removed from last year’s dismal season.

But not all is lost. Swallows appears to have the excitement to get the team moving in the right direction. His staff has a few new faces, but he also has some good, steady cohorts that went through the good years as well as last year. At this stage, nothing will be new to them.

Now the fans in the stands will have to make a few adjustments as well. The key here will be understanding that football in Livingston is a lot more simpler than football in Knoxville. Here it’s played for the love of the game, and there it appears to be more of a business than a sport. That’s unfortunate, but for the time being, that’s the way it is.

That doesn’t mean that Livingston can’t play on the same field as Knoxville Catholic or Knoxville Fulton or Austin East, but it does mean they can’t do it every year. It only takes one trip to Catholic to get a halfway understanding of that program. It resembles a college program more than a high school program.

So, after beating around the bush for a page or two, let’s get to the bottom line.

Again this season, the Wildcats will be young, but they will have some experience at most positions. They will probably lose more games than they win, and that’s not being negative, it’s being realistic.

But one thing will be for sure. When the LA Wildcats take the field this year on Friday nights, they will come with a better understanding of what’s in store and will be better prepared than last year simply because they are a year older.

Patience will be the one thing LA followers will need. They already show their support as well or better than any school in the state. This year, like last, will be a struggle, but it will be one more step up the ladder.

With proper coaching and fan support, the youngsters in the Blue and White will start taking steps back to the glory years of just a few season past.

And when this group matures, it will be a resemblance of the recent past. It’s just going to take some time getting there.

top of page

Livingston Academy Cheerleaders

Members of the 2007 Livingston Academy Cheerleading Squad are, front row from left, Sarah Coffman, Kayla Boles, Amanda Howard, middle row, Alana Gore, Kassie Sullivan, Mary Beth Winningham, Amber Bates, back row, Shenna Pendergrass, Megan Boles, Elizabeth Parsons, and Kathy Curtis.

 

 

 

top of page

Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570
tel 931.823.6485
fax 931.823.6486
info@overtoncountynews.com

 

   
Office Supplies Graphic Design Custom Printing Advertising