By TOMMY BRYAN
Preparations for the 2009 football season are underway at Mt. Juliet High -- without the services of standout running back Brady Earnhardt. The chiseled 5-9, 185-pounder is expected to miss most, if not all, of his senior year due to an off-season knee injury.
Earnhardt, who rushed for 1,168 yards on 179 carries a year ago (6.5 per attempt) and scored 11 TDs, reportedly tore a lateral collateral ligament while participating in a football camp at the University of Tennessee.
While the Bears will certainly miss his presence on the field, they will also miss his leadership.
"Brady is a rare athlete," said MJ head coach Roger Perry. "He had already graded out as the fastest and strongest player at the UT camp before he got hurt. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a player with his combination of power and speed."
The Golden Bears will employ a two-platoon system this year.
"Our depth situation will change, we’ll be two-deep at every position instead of four-deep," Perry said.
A familiar face is in a new place as longtime girls basketball coach Chris Fryer joins the coaching staff -- working with linebackers.
"I’d tried to get Chris involved since I arrived at Mt. Juliet," Perry said, "and I had just about given up."
Fryer a former offensive lineman and linebacker for the Golden Bears, had worked with football before during his teaching career.
His most recent effort on the gridiron came under the Dan Winfree regime when Winfree and several assistants were injured in a van crash while en route to scout a future opponent.
Fryer and others on the faculty filled in while the regular coaches recovered from their injuries.
Mt. Juliet High will be accepting season ticket renewals Monday - Friday, July 27-31 at the main office. Season ticket holders from the 2008 season who wish to renew may do so between the hours of 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
First-time season ticket holders are welcome the week of Aug. 3-7, 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Season tickets are available in both the upper and lower sections of new stadium, centered at the 50-yard line, and include a parking pass.
Mt. Juliet’s schedule includes six home games this season, including the September 4 home-opener against District 9AAA rival Gallatin High. The Golden Bears open the 2009 season Aug. 28 at Nashville McGavock.
Both the Mt. Juliet ninth grade and varsity programs will be participating in the third annual Justice Jamboree -- hosted by Wilson Central High. The event is set for Saturday, August 15.
Mt. Juliet High’s ninth graders will scrimmage Riverdale High at 5:45 p.m.
The first all-varsity event of the evening is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. as Mt. Juliet takes on Riverdale.