Friday Night Lights 3

Hendersonville Area High School Football 2017 Preview

As August closes in and summer vacations end, many people begin to anticipate fall. Along with the cooler temperatures and the turning of leaves, they know that one of the best times of the year is coming soon: football season. From junior pro through the NFL, football has a hold in the South unlike any other sport. However, the excitement for the season is most evident on Friday nights through the spectacle that is high school football.  Nowhere is this feeling more evident than in and around Hendersonville, Tennessee.

As schools prepare to open for another year, eager players and fans begin the countdown to what they hope will be their team’s most magical season.  At this point, all teams are tied for first place, and they each will have the opportunity to vie for region and state championships. To help our readers get ready for high school football 2017, Hendersonville Lifestyle is delighted to provide you with a preview of the upcoming season with a spotlight on several of your favorite local teams.

Hendersonville High School

Since the fall of 1941, the Hendersonville High School Commandos have been a force to be reckoned with in Middle Tennessee prep football. Proudly wearing the school colors of black and gold, Hendersonville has a long tradition of fielding outstanding high school football teams that have gone deep in the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association postseason playoffs, including being state runner-up in the 2013 BlueCross Bowl.

Last season, Hendersonville finished with an overall record of 7-3 in TSSAA Division I Class 5A Region 6 action. Due to increased enrollment, this season the Commandos will move up to Division I Class 6A Region 4.

“We have the most difficult group of teams on our schedule in the history of HHS football,” head football coach Bruce Hatfield says. “However, this team has worked hard so far, and we expect them to do well.”

Key matchups include traditional rivalry opponents Gallatin, Beech and Station Camp, along with region powerhouses Blackman, Mt. Juliet and Franklin.

Hendersonville has a strong group of experienced players returning this fall. The key offensive player to watch will be senior quarterback Brett Coker. He will take his snaps behind a veteran offensive line that includes seniors Blaze Foster, Dustin Perdue and Connor Tacconelli. Defensively, Hendersonville will be led by Anthony Hughes, a 6-foot-1-inch, 193-pound senior who also takes snaps as a running back on offense. The veteran defensive backfield, including Gabe Dalton, Chandler Kennedy and Josh Gerleve, will do their best to shut down opposing offenses.

Hendersonville 2017 Schedule

  • August 18 at Blackman
  • August 25 Centennial
  • September 1 at Station Camp
  • September 8 Beech
  • September 15 at Lebanon
  • September 22 Franklin
  • September 29 at Wilson Central
  • October 6 at Gallatin
  • October 20 Rossview
  • October 27 Mt. Juliet

Beech High School

The Beech High School Buccaneers are eager to return to the playing field this fall after finishing with an overall record of 8- 4 (7-3 regular season, third place in Division I Class 5A Region 6) during the 2016 campaign. Led by veteran head coach Anthony Crabtree, the Beech Buccaneers are eager to return to the form that led to their only state football championship in 2012.

The Buccaneers’ tough schedule begins with two away games, including a neutral field matchup against region rival Henry County at Austin Peay State University. Other key matchups include region games against Gallatin, Glencliff, Hillsboro and Hillwood, as well as local rivals Hendersonville and Station Camp.

Despite the loss of 13 seniors from last year, the Buccaneers look to be one of the favorites to vie for their region championship. On offense, Beech will be led by a veteran squad of seniors including quarterback Nelson Smith, tight end Heath Crabtree, wide receiver Ty Dean and running backs Austin Hawkins and Garrett Butler. Defensively, the Buccaneers will rely on the talents of senior defensive back Robert Lewis and linebackers Chaz Williamson and John Parker Carroll.

Beech 2017 Schedule

  • August 18 at Wilson Central
  • August 25 at Henry County, at Austin Peay State University
  • September 1 Glencliff
  • September 8 at Hendersonville
  • September 15 at Hunters Lane
  • September 22 at Springfield
  • September 29 Hillsboro
  • October 6 Station Camp
  • October 20 Gallatin
  • October 27 at Hillwood

Station Camp High School

In 1765, long hunters came to the East Bank of Station Camp Creek in pursuit of prey, including a teeming herd of Bison. More than 200 years later, the East Bank is now home to Station Camp High School and its Bison football team.

As the newest high school in Sumner County, Station Camp has experienced rapid growth that has seen the school change TSSAA football classifications multiple times since its opening in 2002. Last year, the Bison competed in DI Region Class 5A Region 6, earning an overall record of 4-6. Due to increased enrollment, Station Camp was once again reclassified and will be competing in DI Class 6A Region 4 during the 2017 season.

Coached by Shaun Hollinsworth, the Bison are eager to begin play after the offseason.

Per the coach, the key to this season is “Antioch, our first game. We need to get off on the right foot by starting the season with a win to start things rolling.”

Key matchups for the Bison this season include local rivals Hendersonville, Gallatin and Beech as well as the school’s other Region 4 opponents.

The critical offensive challenge is “determining who is going to emerge as the quarterback to lead the Bison,” Shaun says. Candidates for the position include senior Nick Nelson and juniors Braxton Loewen and Max Barnett.

Similarly, on the defensive side, the coach adds that the big question is “who is going to fill the inside linebacker roles left by 2016 graduates Malachi Rogan and Simon Freeman?” Competing for the two jobs will be seniors Nathan Couch, Zach Brown and sophomores Gavin Bilyeu and Keshon Jackson, among others.

Station Camp 2017 Schedule

  • August 18 at Antioch
  • August 25 at Gallatin
  • September 1 Hendersonville
  • September 8 Springfield
  • September 15 at Rossview
  • September 22 Hunters Lane
  • September 29 Lebanon
  • October 6 at Beech
  • October 20 at Mt. Juliet
  • October 27 Wilson Central

Gallatin High School

One of the oldest and most storied football programs in Middle Tennessee is located in Gallatin, Tennessee, the county seat of Sumner County.  The Gallatin Green Wave is a perennial power in area high school football, boasting three TSSAA state football championships: 1978, 1989 and 1992.

During 2016, the Green Wave posted a regular season record of 6-4 in DI Class 5A Region 6 before bowing out in a first-round playoff game against eventual state championship runner-up Independence. This year, Gallatin hopes to improve upon their record, despite the loss of 2016 graduate running back Jordan Mason (2,048 yards, 23 touchdowns), who is now playing for Georgia Tech.

“We’ve got a great group of coachable kids this year,” sixth-year head coach Mark Williams says. “They love to compete, and I’m looking forward to the season to see what they can do. They’ve worked so hard, and it should be a fun season.”

The Green Wave are deep at major offensive positions, with several returning senior starters, including quarterback Colin Minor, running back Jalen Porter, fullback Shy Rickman, center Brandon Claud and guards Achellious Turner and John Austin Birdwell. Key defensive players include senior linebackers Dyze Vaugh and Jalen Porter, senior cornerback Xavier Fitts and junior cornerback Sertavious Perry, a Station Camp transferee.

The Green Wave will open its 2017 campaign with a home game against Springfield. Key matchups for the remainder of the season will include region foes Hillsboro and Beech, who are tied with Gallatin as preseason region favorites. Other contests of note include rivalry games against Station Camp and Hendersonville.

Gallatin 2017 Schedule

  • August 18 Springfield
  • August 25 Station Camp
  • September 1 at Hillsboro
  • September 8 at Mt. Juliet
  • September 15 Hillwood
  • September 22 at Wilson Central
  • September 29 at Hunters Lane
  • October 6 Hendersonville
  • October 20 at Beech
  • October 27 Glencliff

Pope John Paul II High School (JPII)

One of the premier parochial schools in Middle Tennessee is Pope John Paul II High School, located in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Founded in 2002, JPII has developed a proud tradition in academics and athletics, including its football program.

During 2016, the JPII Knights posted a season record of 6-4 in the DII Class 3A East/Middle Region. Led by head football coach Justin Geisinger, JPII will take on some of the major DII football powerhouses in the state this fall, including traditional rivals Father Ryan, Ensworth and last season’s state champion, Brentwood Academy and runner-up MBA.

Offensive players to watch this season will be junior quarterback Ben Nixon and a squad of senior teammates including running back Theo Onaghinor, wide receiver Nicholas Zanger and offensive tackle Jake Motz. Defensively, the Knights will be led by a group of experienced seniors, including defensive ends Andrew Albert and Edward Agholor, linebacker Jack Brau and cornerback Joshua Martinez.

Pope John Paul II 2017 Schedule

  • August 18 at Whites Creek
  • August 25 Lipscomb Academy
  • September 1 Brentwood Academy
  • September 8 at Father Ryan
  • September 15 at Baylor
  • September 22 Montgomery Bell Academy
  • September 29 McCallie
  • October 5 at Hillwood
  • October 20 at Ensworth
  • October 27 Goodpasture Christian

Hendersonville Christian Academy (HCA)

Hendersonville Christian Academy is one of the oldest private schools in the greater Nashville area, having been founded in 1977. The HCA Crusader football program is unique in our 2017 preview in that the school competes in an eight-man format rather than the traditional 11-man squads used by most schools. The smaller team requirements help the school overcome the limitations imposed by its smaller enrollment and pool of potential players.

HCA looks to build upon a .500 season in 2016 as it competes in the North Division of the Middle Tennessee Athletic Conference (MTAC). During the upcoming season, the Crusaders will face several MTAC opponents, including Lighthouse Christian, Christian Community, Franklin Classical Academy and the Webb School.

“No game is more important than another, but our opener against the Heat will be special, as we partnered last year to have a complete team,” second-year head coach Daniel Meek says about key matchups.

This fall, the Crusaders will rely heavily upon the senior tandem of quarterback Justin Bader and wide receiver Joseph Mussnug to move the ball down the field. Defensively, HCA will be led by senior defensive lineman Tanner Sturgis.

Hendersonville Christian 2017 Schedule

  • August 11 Heat
  • August 18 at Madisonville Defenders (KY)
  • August 25 Webb
  • September 1 Lighthouse Christian
  • September 8 at Christian Community
  • September 15 at South Haven
  • September 29 Franklin Classical Academy
  • October 6 at St. Andrews
  • October 13 Bowling Green
  • October 20 at Riverside