Tigers crush Nolensville
When Nolensville first showed up on Marshall County's 2017 schedule with the new region alignments, most folks thought the Knights had the potential to be a big rival of the biggest high school in Marshall County.
Just not so soon.
After playing an entire junior varsity schedule in 2016 the Williamson County School jumped in headfirst to a full slate in 2017 and made waves doing it.
If not for a close 26-20 loss at home versus Maplewood (7-3, 4-1) the previous Friday, Nolensville (3-7, 2-3) and Marshall County (7-3, 5-0) would be doing battle for the region title on senior night in Lewisburg.
But the Panthers took care of business and the playoff positions were locked up before kickoff so the Tigers took out it frustrations from a big loss to Brentwood the previous week out on the uninspired Knights for a 49-6 win, the largest loss for Nolensville in its short history.
"I feel like we played with a lot of confidence and energy against Nolensville," Tiger quarterback Bryce Wallace, who had just four incompletions out of 14 attempts for 132 yards, said. "The guys up front took over the line of scrimmage and I think that took a toll on them as the game went on."
"The run game was working really well and it helped set up some efficient play-action passes," Wallace added. "We wanted to head into the playoffs on a positive note and I think we took a big step in doing that Friday night."
Wallace also excelled on the ground, running for 75 yards and a score on 10 attempts while Mr. Football semifinalist back Kamron Liggett posted his seventh 100 plus yard contest out of 10 games with 128 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries.
Liggett finished the regular season with 1,310 rushing yards and a whopping 27 scores.
With Hunter Cumming and Miciah Greer both likely out for the remainder of the season, junior running back Mason Warner and sophomore Javarria Rucker both stepped up to fill the void at the suddenly lean position.
Warner finished with 25 yards on four attempts with a long of 15 yards and Rucker continues to shine when given the opportunity, adding 43 yards and a score on just two carries.
Rucker has scored a touchdowns on three out of the four times the sophomore (two runs, one catch) has touched the ball.
Brandon Rowan turned in a fine performance with six grabs for 54 yards and a score and Devon Wilson added 40 yards on two catches.
After giving up the most points in almost two seasons last Friday against Brentwood, the Tigers did what any coach would love.
The team responded with one of its best defensive performances of the season by giving up the second lowest point total of the year after throwing a shutout against Lawrence County during week six.
"The key was to do the little things right," Tavi McLean, who finished with 10 tackles, two tackles for a loss, and two quarterback hurries, said. "Know your assignment and the rest would take care of itself."
McLean got help from senior Billy Cheek (eight tackles, one tackle for a loss), Antonio Warren (seven tackles, two tackles for a loss) and Rowan (seven stops).
Andrew Gold and Grant Agnew each chipped in six tackles each while Marcellus Bennett added two stops, a blocked field goal and an interception.
The win ultimately gave the Tigers added confidence heading into the playoffs by holding a team that got hot the second half of the season to a dismal six points.
The Tigers had a brief moment to reflect and celebrate the rarity of winning three straight championships at a high level before turning its sights on DeKalb County in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs
The Tigers are searching for the elusive state final appearance after two years of coming up just short.
"It means a lot to have our third region championship and undefeated in the region three years in a row," McLean pointed out. "But we have to keep working hard and go get a ring."