By DONOVAN STEWART
BRENTWOOD -- On paper, the Brentwood Academy- Olive Branch, Mississippi game last Friday night had the makings of a classic. So as I went to cover the contest for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, I was both intrigued and excited to see what the teams had. Naturally, I thought it would be a great game.
After watching Brentwood Academy impose their will on their visitors from Mississippi, two observations hit me: 1) Olive Branch will find it tough to replace the three stud lineman they sent to the SEC and 2) BA is loaded. They blitzed Olive Branch 46-14. The Eagles are loaded to the point that the 2010 version is the best coach Ralph Potter has enjoyed since coming to the school on Granny White Pike.
Since taking over for the state’s winningest coach in Carlton Flatt in 2007, Potter (who led his alma mater McCallie to a state title in 2001) is 27-11 in his three years at Brentwood Academy including two runner-up appearances in 2007 and 2008. But this could definitely be the year for the Eagles (4-0) currently ranked No. 1 in the state in Division II-AA and are No. 57 in Rivals National Top 100 poll.
Most of the starters are back for BA, which is always a great luxury to have, but the Eagles are a year wiser and faster. Senior quarterback Matthew Hamby is a tremendous upgrade from the last year’s starter Cody Nelson. Hamby, at 6-4, 210 pounds, has a rocket for an arm and can read the option quite well. He has two big time running backs in senior Victor Caro and junior Radir Annoor.
Caro is the smaller back with breakaway speed while Annoor is a bigger back who likes contact. Other weapons for the Eagles are wide receivers Weldon Garlington, Al Thompson and Mason Sutton, but the calling card for BA is defense.
Junior Woody Baron leads the defensive line, while senior Tyler Berlin paces the line backing corps, the Eagles also have a shutdown corner in senior Derek King, and two ball hawking safeties in Kwanzel Bertrand and William BeAird. Now before we hand the gold ball over to Brentwood Academy, they will have to upgrade a shaky kicking game.
Montgomery Bell Academy, Baylor and Memphis University School (the two-time defending state champions) will definitely have a say in stopping the Eagles in their quest for their 11th state title.
FRIDAY NIGHT STAT STUFFERS
Jacob Huesman, QB, Baylor- Rushed for 245 yards and scored three touchdowns from his quarterback position in a 35-14 win over JP II.
Blake Mitchell, RB, Ezell-Harding- Scored both of his team’s touchdowns and rushed for 214 yards on 20 carries in a 14-7 win over Middle Tennessee Christian School.
Justin Williams, RB, Davidson Academy- Accounted for three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving and rushed for 203 yards in a 19-8 win over Collinwood.
Evan Pittenger, QB, Lincoln County- Passed for 310 yards and two touchdowns on 17-of-32 passing in a 41-28 loss to Riverdale.
Josh Bush, RB, Cookeville- Rushed for 205 yards on just 19 carries and scored three touchdowns in a 32-24 win over Lebanon.
Deunte Strickland, RB, Memphis Central- Was a scoring machine as he found the end zone five times three rushing and two passing and rushed for 206 yards in a 38-14 win over Bolton.
Danny Potter, QB, Brighton- Had another big game as he passed for 344 yards (23-of-35) and threw three touchdowns in a 47-6 win over Covington.
Brian Kimbrow, RB, Memphis East- Went for 215 yards on 25 carries in a 22-6 win over Southwind.
Tanner Williams, QB, Anderson Co.- Had a monster game as he passed for 409 yards and a school record seven touchdowns in a 55-22 win over Knox. Central.
Quinn Epperly, QB, CAK- Passed for 298 yards and five touchdowns on 27-of-31 passing in a 48-20 win over Knox. Carter.
Trey Gaff, DB, Knox. Gibbs- Recorded six tackles and was a ball hawk intercepting three passes including one he returned for a touchdown in a 45-19 win over Knox. Grace.
Ross Keasler, LB, Boyd Buchanan- Was a tackling machine as he made 23 tackles in a 16-7 loss to Howard.
Jay Rudwall, LB, Ooltewah- Registered 17 tackles in a 28-14 loss to Franklin.
Jared Allen, QB, Polk Co.- Accounted for seven touchdowns in a 48-27 win over Chattanooga Christian as he rushed for five scores and threw two more.
BY THE NUMBERS
5- Interceptions by the Knoxville Webb secondary in a 42-7 win over Knox. Halls.
56- Number of teams across the state that are still unbeaten.
109- Number of victories that Smith County coach Jimmy Maynord has at the school which ties former legend Turney Ford
329- First half yardage gained by Alcoa in their 49-0 win over Knox. Fulton.
1,116 / 18- Rushing yards and touchdowns scored by Knox. Bearden running back Devrin Young.
1,206 / 15- Passing yardage and number of TD’s thrown by Anderson County’s Tanner Williams through three games.
1,264 / 14- Passing yardage and number of touchdowns thrown by Brighton’s Danny Potter through four games.
2003- The last time Wartburg had defeated Harriman before winning 41-12 Friday night.