How does Ensworth replace a Mr. Football winner the caliber of a Corn Elder?
Honestly, it is almost unrealistic for anyone to aspire to Elder’s career totals of 4,571 yards and 61 touchdowns, including 2,617 and 39, respectively, in his senior year.
Yet the Tigers might have found him in senior D’Andre Ferby.
At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Ferby is much bigger than the 5-10, 165 Elder, who signed to play at Miami (Fla.). Ferby’s stutter-step and explosion into the secondary make one very remindful of Elder.
In a scrimmage against Columbia Central on Friday, Ferby rushed for approximately 100 yards and set up Ensworth’s two touchdowns (the only scores for either team) in the two-hour session before about 500 football hungry prep fans at Vanderbilt Stadium.
“Playing behind [Elder], I sat on the sidelines for three years and watched him run, tried to pick up little things that would make my own game successful,” Ferby said just after the scrimmage. “It was a treat watching him play.
“This season, I just want to come in, do my job, practice hard and try to put my team in a position to win.”
Ensworth has won three straight TSSAA Division II-AA football championships and ended last season ranked No. 14 rank in the USA Today Super 25 prep poll.
The pursuit of a fourth straight championship begins with a matchup against reigning Kentucky state champion Trinity, Aug. 23 on ESPNU.
“That’s going to be very exciting, two great programs opening the season under the bright lights,” Ferby said. “We’re anxious to get started. And if we play the way we can, I think there’s a good chance we’ll get back [to the state title] again.”
Quarterback P.J. Settles threw two touchdown passes of 55 and 15 yards, both to Rico McGraw, in the scrimmage. Defensive tackle Michael Sawyers, a Vanderbilt commitment, racked up two sacks.
Winning is nothing new to the Tigers, but some of this year’s key performers will be different.
“Being a senior, D’Andre is one of our leaders, and we are counting on our senior leadership,” coach Ricky Bowers said after the scrimmage. “Some of our defensive guys are a little inexperienced and that is a concern.”
• Youth movement: Franklin Road Academy starts the second year of the Bill Whittemore coaching era with a young gun at the controls.
Spence Jones, a 6-foot-2, 160-pound sophomore, will be the Panthers’ starting quarterback. Whittemore and his players have high hopes Jones can be more than an adequate replacement for Matt Hissong, last year’s passing standout.
Whittemore, who won the Mr. Football award after a record-setting passing year at Brentwood High in 1998 and was a standout passer at Kansas, knows a thing or two about quarterbacks.
“Spence has done very well so far in preseason, he has a good arm, and he’s adapted well to the offense,” Whittemore said. “He’s a good leader.”
The Panthers open the season Aug. 23 when they host Christian Academy of Knoxville in the start of beefed-up DII-A schedule, which includes region newcomers Battle Ground Academy and Friendship Christian.
“Having them in there certainly makes it tougher, but we are excited about the season,” Whittemore said. “Their addition makes for a bigger challenge certainly but it creates more incentive. We know we have to play well.”
Division I prospect Joe Irby, who is 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, anchors the line. He has indicated he might announce his college choice prior to the opener.
“If I had to narrow it down to one word for Joe, I would say tough,” Whittemore said. “But besides that, he is a super nice guy, who tries as hard as he can to make himself and his team better.”
• New coach: John Taylor Burks has been named the football coach at Hillwood High.
Burks makes his debut for the Toppers in the Metro Jamboree opener Aug. 15 at Pearl-Cohn High against Hunters Lane, then against host Pearl-Cohn.
He replaced James (Bubba) Spears who retired July 1.
• All-state baseball: The Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association has named its all-state team. Nashville area players include:
First team: Catcher: Will Haynie, Brentwood Academy. Infielder: Bryan Reynolds, Brentwood High; Outfielder: Alex Junior, Goodpasture.
Second team: Pitcher: Matt Hissong, FRA; Infielders: Penn Murfee, MBA; Tyler Bozeman, Centennial; Outfield: Brad Jarreau, Pope JPII.
Third team: Pitcher: J.P. Brazie, Goodpasture; Infielder: Jay Rhoten, Goodpasture.
45th annual Metro Jamboree
(Two quarters each)
(at Pearl-Cohn High, 7 p.m.)
Hunters Lane vs. Hillwood
Hillwood vs. Pearl-Cohn
Pearl-Cohn vs. Hunters Lane
(at Overton High, 6 p.m.)
Overton vs. Maplewood
Maplewood vs. Hillsboro
Overton vs. Hillsboro
Stratford vs. Glencliff
(at McGavock High, 6 p.m.)
McGavock vs. Donelson Christian Academy
Cane Ridge vs. East Nashville
Whites Creek vs. Antioch