2017 Forrest Rockets’ Football Preview
2017 Forrest Rockets’ Football Preview
Coaches: Head coach-Brent Johns, 2nd year, (11-2, Region 4/2A Champions)
Eli Stephenson (Defensive Coordinator)
Kyle Stacey (Special Teams)
Matthew Delk (Assistant coach)
Colin Henson (Assistant coach)
Gaby Bussell (Trainer)
|Regular Season Record||156-114-0|
Postseason Record 7-17-0
Rockets have big spikes to fill
Brent Johns is entering his fifth season of coaching varsity football at Forrest and the second as head coach.
In his first season at the helm, the Chapel Hill graduate posted an 11-2 record, guiding the Rockets to their second consecutive Region 4/2A title and two playoff wins before losing to postseason thorn in the side Marion County 55-14 at home.
It was the second year in row and third time in the last eight years that Marion County knocked Forrest out of the playoffs on their home turf.
“We are very proud of last year, but we continue to stress to this year’s team that last year is in the past and we have to earn everything again,” Johns said. “I think we can build on the fact that our kids know the formula and hard work needed to reach deep into the playoffs now.”
Forrest has been working hard to improve through the dog days of summer practice and scrimmages versus Trousdale County, Richland, Spring Hill, plus Giles County and RePublic at last week’s Jamboree.
“We had a really good summer with great attendance at workouts and we also performed well in several 7-on-7 passing events,” Johns said. “The scrimmage season started off bad with a loss to Trousdale County, but we rebounded the next two weeks versus Spring Hill, Giles County, and Republic.”
The Rockets lost a bevy of good players to graduation including Mr. Football semifinalist Slayton Wild, Jacob Jones, Billy Clanton, Michael Dyer, Anthony Kritz, and the clutch performer Luke Cunningham.
Between Wild, Jones, Kritz, Dyer, and Cunningham, the Rockets lost 1,369 yards of offense and 14 touchdowns, including two punt returns for scores by Jones.
The 2017 squad is almost evenly represented by all four graduating classes with 13 seniors, 14 juniors, 16 sophomores, and 14 freshmen.
“We do have a good mix of upper classmen as well as a good sophomore class,” Johns said. “Our success will be determined by our senior leadership on and off the field.”
Some of those seniors Johns talks about as leaders of the team are all offensive starters in quarterback Layton Bennett, running back Troy Turner, wingback Austin Porter, wide receiver Colby Bluthardt, and offensive linemen Nathan Trout, Josh “Tank” Hill, and Dylan Kydd.
The defensive linemen are all seniors as both Hill and Trout will play both sides of the ball and are joined on the line by Bryton Spitzley and Austin Geeting.
Turner and Drew Carlisle represent the senior starters at linebacker and Dylan Pendley and Parker Stuard are the senior starters in the defensive backfield.
Sophomore Blaize Sweeney is one of the starting linebackers on the squad and will provide plenty of punch on defense, plus an added weapon on offense at the running back spot.
Johns talked about his defensive unit hit hard by graduation at the linebacker spot saying, “We will be very young and inexperienced at outside linebacker. If some of those young guys can grow up throughout the year our defense will be fine.”
Bennett is in his second year as the starting quarterback for Forrest and put up some decent numbers last season, completing 21-of-49 passes for 538 yards and seven touchdowns to go along with three interceptions.
“Layton is running our offense well right now,” Johns said. “We will still be a run first team and try to set the passing game up with play action.”
Junior Josh Meglis and freshman Max Kirby provide the backup to the quarterback position.
The Rockets as usual are deep in the running back stable, led by Turner, junior Wes McCoy, and sophomore Nick McClendon.
Turner rushed for 319 yards on 38 carries for an 8.4 rushing average last season and scored three touchdowns.
McClendon had 284 yards on 61 carries for a 4.7 average and rushed for four TD’s and McCoy toted the rock 30 times for 191 yards and scored a team-high six rushing touchdowns.
Stuard also will be called on as the senior rushed for 100 yards last year. Justin Leonard, Carlisle, Dylan Pendley, Hunter Pendley, Cannon Cervantes, and Joseph Whittaker are all capable of helping out in the backfield.
“We will continue to use as many backs as possible in order to keep people fresh and healthy for defense,” John said. “The backs we will count on the most are Nick McClendon, Troy Turner, and Wes McCoy.”
Trout, Hill, and Kydd are the rocks of the offensive line and are joined by two more talented linemen in junior Billy Perryman and sophomore Tate Garvin.
Junior Evan Ethridge will man the starting tight end spot and will get plenty of help from converted quarterback Joel Burton.
Sophomore Spencer McCown is primed for a breakout year at wide receiver, along with his classmates starting cornerback Cole Villazon and Lofton Yeager.
Other wide receivers are freshmen Jordan Voss and Layne Bowman.
Porter and Dylan Pendley share the wingback spot on offense.
Probably the biggest change this season for Forrest and most other schools is the new Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s realignment that begins this season that has the Rockets in Class 2A Region 5 with longtime foes Eagleville and Community, along with newcomers Columbia Academy, Summertown, Loretto and Lewis County, all moving up from 1A.
Forrest has not played Columbia Academy since 2006, while they have not met Lewis County or Loretto in decades.
Summertown is in its third season of varsity football, finishing 8-3 last year in Class A, while Columbia Academy was 12-2, Lewis County 9-3, and Loretto 0-10.
Non-region opponents are BGA (Week 1), Fayetteville (Week 2), Watertown (Week 6), and Cascade (Week 10).
The Rockets will have to navigate the unknown with the new schedule this season and will have to overcome the loss of many star players if they want to win another region title.
“We know the expectations are always going to be high here as they should be,” Johns said. “With this new region and having several new opponents, we are going to take it one week at a time.”
2017 Forrest Rockets Schedule
|Friday, August 18||7 p.m.||BGA|
|Friday, August 25||7 p.m.||Fayetteville|
|Friday, September 1||7 p.m.||at Eagleville|
|Friday, September 8||7 p.m.||Summertown (HC)|
|Friday, September 15||7 p.m.||at Columbia Academy|
|Friday, September 22||7 p.m.||at Watertown|
|Friday, September 29||7 p.m.||Lewis County|
|Friday, October 6||7 p.m.||Loretto|
|Friday, October 13||BYE|
|Friday, October 20||7 p.m.||at Cascade|
|Friday, October 27||7 p.m.||at Community|
|3||Cole Villazon||CB, WR||So.|
|4||Dylan Pendley||SS, SB||Sr.|
|5||Max Kirby||QB, FS||Fr.|
|6||Nick McClendon RB||So.|
|7||Layton Bennett QB||Sr.|
|8||Hunter Pendley RB, SS||Fr.|
|9||Spencer McCown WR, FS||So.|
|10||Austin Porter RB||Sr.|
|11||Drew Carlisle||RB, MLB||Sr.|
|12||Joel Burton||TE, OLB||So.|
|13||Wesley McCoy||RB, FS||Jr.|
|14||Blaize Sweeney RB, LB||So.|
|16||Evan Ethridge||TE, OLB||Jr.|
|20||Gauge Anderson SS||Jr.|
|22||Parker Stuard||CB, SS||Sr.|
|23||Layne Bowman WR, CB||Fr.|
|24||Cannon Cervantes RB, FS||Fr.|
|25||Troy Turner||RB, MLB||Sr.|
|27||Colby Bluthardt WR, FS||Sr.|
|34||Bryton Spitzley LB||Sr.|
|35||Joseph Whitaker RB, MLB||Fr.|
|36||Jordan Voss||WR, CB||Fr.|
|40||Jacob Wright||T, MLB||Jr.|
|50||Carter Housch||G, MLB||Jr.|
|51||Mason Walls OL, DL||So.|
|52||Alex Allen||T, DE||So.|
|54||Austin Geeting||NG, DT||Sr.|
|58||Cole Geeting||T, G, DE||Fr.|
|59||Jarod Osborne||T, DE||Fr.|
|62||Tate Garvin||G, DE||So.|
|64||Noah Hill||G, DE||Fr.|
|66||Dillon Kydd OL||Sr.|
|71||Nathan Trout OL, DL||Sr.|
|70||Ryan Dyer OL, DL||So.|
|72||Anton Overstreet T, DE||So.|
|73||James Newman T, DE||Fr.|
|77||Kody Patin OL, DL||So.|
|77||Dowlen Hosford OL, DL||Jr.|
|78||Sammy Williams OL, DL||So.|
|79||Josh Hill||T, DT||Sr.|
|84||Lofton Yeager WR, OLB||So.|
2016 All-Region Selections
Luke Cunningham (WR/DB, Honorable Mention), Anthony Kritz (DB/WR, All-Region 1st Team) Mac Ridley (OL, Honorable Mention), Dylan Pendley (WR/DB, Honorable mention), Troy Turner (RB/LB, All-Region 1st Team), Jonathan Lykins (DL/TE, Honorable Mention), Josh Hill (OL/DL, 1st Team All-Region), Nathan Trout (OL/DL, 1st Team All-Region), Billy Clanton (LB/TE, 1st Team All-Region), Jacob Jones (DB, RB, P, KR, All-Region 1st Team and Special Teams MVP) and Michael Dyer (WR/DB, All-Region 1st Team).