Preps: Smith steps down after seven seasons at Stratford

Sunday, November 6, 2011 at 9:22pm

After seven seasons, Jason Smith has resigned as football coach at Stratford High.

Smith, 34, decided late last week to step down as coach, just days after his team barely missed the Class 4A playoffs.

“There were two main reasons,” Smith said over the weekend. “I have eight-year-old son, Isaiah, who plays football and a five-year-old daughter, Isabella, who plays soccer, and I want to be around both of them for that. My family is going to come first.

“Another is that I am pursuing my doctorate degree, which is due to be complete next May, and coaching football was going to prove to be too much.”

Smith was coach at Stratford for 12 seasons, the first five as an assistant.

His teams went 19-52 over his seven seasons. His best likely was in 2006, when the Spartans went 6-5 reached the postseason. They lost to Springfield in the opening round.

After 0-10 and 3-7 records the past two years, Stratford went 5-5 in Smith’s final season which ended on a high note last month with a last-second 21-14 win over Lipscomb.

Despite finishing .500 this season, the Spartans barely missed the playoffs.

“There were nine 5-5 teams that got in and we were the 10th one,” Smith said. “There were several 3-7 and 4-6 teams that got in. It was disappointing.

“I left coaching at Stratford on a positive note, I wasn’t forced out. In fact, [Stratford] principal Michael Steele asked me to stay on as athletic director. I always tried to do what was best for Stratford High and its football program. I’m leaving with no regrets.”

Smith said he had “no idea’’ who the new coach would be.

Missing playoffs unusual for Gore

Last Friday, Jay Gore got in his car and headed for a playoff game. This year it was different.

Gore wasn’t headed over to coach his McGavock team because the Raiders missed the Class 6A playoffs after finishing 4-6.

Instead, he drove to Brentwood High to see the Bruins play (and beat) Independence in the opening round. Brentwood is where he served as an assistant coach before he took the McGavock job last year.

“As I was driving to the game, I was thinking that this was the first time a team that I have either coached or have been an assistant has missed the playoffs since 1980,” Gore said. “That’s counting all the time that I served as an assistant at Hillsboro, Lipscomb and Brentwood High.

“We had an usual set of circumstances this year. We opened up, facing teams like Tullahoma, Mt. Juliet and Franklin. Then our fullback breaks his ankle when we play Antioch and suddenly we’re 0-4. We had a new quarterback who, in the end, made a lot of improvement [Pressley Gamble who passed for 1,180 yards and 12 touchdowns.] In the game at Overton, which likely determined whether we made the playoffs, we dropped a pass in the end zone.

“I don’t want to say the season was a disappointment, because we had a lot of guys who made big strides during the season. For a team that finished 4-6, we had 52 guys who started the season and 50 who finished it. We improved greatly.”

Wild opening weekend

After the dust had settled on the first Friday of the TSSAA football playoffs, a lot of giants were slain and underdogs were celebrating.

Of note:

• Pearl-Cohn is very much enjoying Carthage in November. A No. 8 seed, the Firebirds knocked out host and top quadrant seed Smith County (which was 10-0) 20-14 in 3A.

Pearl-Cohn ousted the Owls 40-0 in Carthage last year.

• No. 8 seed Page went on the road and defeated top seed Lexington 17-6 in Class 4A as Damian Lockridge scored two touchdowns.

• Antioch, a top seed in 6A, lost to No. 8 Station Camp, 21-13. But the Bears came much closer than in the season opener when Station Camp won 35-6 back on Aug. 26.

• After beating McCallie 33-21 just a little over a month ago, Battle Ground Academy saw its excellent season end at 7-4 with stunning 24-17 DI-AA home loss to the Tornado.

McCallie’s Jack Williamson inexplicably got behind the BGA secondary for a 43-yard touchdown catch with three seconds left.

• A 316-yard rushing game by Maplewood’s lightning-fast Ladarius Vanlier in a 40-7 Class 4A win over Creek Wood puts him close to 2,000 yards. At 1,906, he needs just 94 in a second-round game against Liberty to hit the mark.

• Father Ryan went on the road and blanked St. Benedict 17-0 to advance to a Division II-AA quarterfinal matchup at Ensworth Friday. Irish back Rafael Hopkins hit the 1,000-yard mark with a 145-yard rushing effort, which gave him 1,012 for the season. His two touchdowns give him 11.

• After going 3-5 its first eight games of a lackluster regular season, Montgomery Bell Academy (6-5) won its third straight, trouncing Briarcrest 40-14 its the DII-AA opener. It was the Big Red’s most point since an opening 42-6 victory over Kingsbury.

• Goodpasture quarterback Keenan Reynolds passed for 264 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for another score against Grundy County — all in the first half. He finished 13-of-17 pssing for 334 yards in a 42-6 romp.

Next week, the Cougars get a 3A second-round rematch Christ Presbyterian Academy after CPA won the regular season opener 35-14.

Franklin wins again

Franklin High capped a perfect 24-0 season with a 3-0 victory over Farragut to win the Class AAA state soccer championship Saturday in Chattanooga. Chesney White scored two goals, and Emily Burchfield racked up the shutout for the Rebels who won their 11th state title.

In the Class A/AA final, Christian Academy of Knoxville topped Christ Presbyterian Academy 3-1. Madi Andres scored the Lion’s lone goal, her second in two games.

In the Class DII-A final, Franklin Road Academy fell just short of its fifth state crown as it fell to University School of Jackson 2-1 in overtime. Christine Matthews scored for FRA, which finished 18-4-1.

Baylor beat St. Agnes 2-0 to win the DII-AA title.

State cross country

University School of Nashville won both the boys and girls DII-A team championships at the state cross country meet Saturday at Edwin Warner Park Steeplechase course. Emily Peters of St. Cecilia finished second in the girls race.

In the DII-AA boys race, MBA’s Daniel Peters won in 15:57.31, the fastest time in any classification in the meet. Peters helped lead MBA to the team title.

Led by freshman Reagan Freeman’s first place finish, Harpeth Hall won the girls DII-AA title again, its 11th team crown.

David Lipscomb’s Barbara Lee Ball won her second straight Class A/AA championship in 19:21.93.

Martin Luther King’s Sam Klockenkemper won the A/AA boys race in 16:22.46.

Led by Paul Stuart’s second place finish, Brentwood High won the Class AAA boys state title, far ahead of Houston 50-129.

Ravenwood edged Science Hill 113-119 to win the AAA girls title.