When Kevin Locastro resigned as head football coach at Christian Brothers in January of 2013 after a successful 15 seasons as the Purple Wave head man, he didn’t know what was in his future. He wanted to take some time off, watch his daughter plays sports and spend time with his family.
Three months later in April, an offer to help legendary coach Ken Netherland usher a new football program Lausanne into their varsity season was too good to pass up as he served the Lynx offensive coordinator in 2013.
According to Lausanne Athletic Director Troy Baker, when the Lynx hired Locastro, their was a succession plan as he was hired to be the head coach in waiting and would replace Netherland when he retired.
“Coach Netherland was known as the “program builder” and when Kevin resigned at Christian Brothers, it made sense to get Kevin over here to help make the program that much better,” Baker said. “I really respected the great job that Kevin did at Christian Brothers and wanted him to be a part of the program and have him took over after coach Netherland stepped away.”
After a 6-3 record that inaugural 2013 season, Netherland retired and Locastro took over as head coach in January of 2014. The program suffered another loss in July when Netherland passed away and the Lynx had another good season finishing 6-4.
But this season, the Lynx have taken yet another step forward as they finished the regular season 7-3 and made the Division II-A playoffs for the first time in school history. The Lynx then went out and won their first playoff game over Davidson Academy 38-12 as junior quarterback Mario Nolan-Dillard passed for 119 yards and one touchdown while also rushing for another touchdown.
Sophomore running back Chris Witherspoon also added two touchdown runs to go along with 63 yards on the ground in the win as well. The Lynx (8-3) will now go to St. George’s (10-1), whom they defeated 30-14 in week two as Nolan-Dillard passed for 202 yards and touchdown while rushing for 87 more yards and a touchdown.
Four other teams in Chattanooga Christian, MAHS, Manassas and Stone Memorial also won their first playoff game in school history last Friday. Here’s a look of each playoff win for those programs.
Chattanooga Christian 23, DeKalb County 22- The Chargers (8-3) got the game winning 33 yard touchdown pass from Kade Oglesby to Brandon Mason with five minutes left in the contest and leaned on their defense to win their first playoff game. Quarterback Matthew Mercer passed for 160 yards and Will Patton had a 75 yard run as well and Justin Wheeler led the Charger defense with 9.5 tackles.
“The biggest difference in our team this year might be described as team chemistry. Our team is all about relationships. Our players care about one another. They believe in each other, and they play for each other,” Chattanooga Christian head coach Rob Spence said.
“As a result, they have a desire to improve in order to play at their highest potential. We believe that when the team is right, what’s on the scoreboard each week takes care of itself.”
MAHS 40, Westwood 0– The Lions (6-5) under first year coach Cedric Miller won their first playoff game in their second playoff appearance (2011 was the first) as they shut out winless Westwood (0-10). Senior running back LaDerrius Burks rushed for 151 yards and scored two touchdowns while quarterback Malik Morris passed for two touchdowns and ran for another in the win.
“It means more to the kids and MAHS than anything,” Miller said. The Douglas community is really excited about the success of the school and the football program this year.”
Manassas 75, MLK Prep 21– Manassas (4-7) used a top notch running game as they rushed for 324 yards and scored 34 points in the first quarter alone to get their first playoff win in 11 attempts. Running back LaDarrion Seymour rushed for 141 yards and scored three touchdowns and quarterback James Smith had 84 yards rushing and scored four times on the ground and London McGhee also scored twice as Manassas scored the most points in the playoffs so far in the win.
“It was very big to get this first playoff win because we had been close the last couple of years and felt snake bitten because we didn’t finish,” Manassas head coach Carl Coleman said. “The kids are excited about the win but they want more and that’s a good thing.”
Stone Memorial 46, Giles County 21- Stone Memorial continues to set records this season as they won their first playoff game in their five playoff appearances under coach Mark Wattenbarger. The Panthers (11-0) got 100 yard rushing games from sophomore Cody Wyllins (120 yards, one touchdown) and senior Justin Johnson (113 yards, three touchdowns) to take the win over Giles County.
According to Wattenbarger, despite the small senior class of only 11 seniors, they are a huge reason for the undefeated season so far.
“This senior group has a good football IQ. They understand why we do what we do and can make the little adjustments throughout the game or in the game plan. I’ve had teams that anything different totally short circuited them,” Wattenbarger remarked. “This bunch learns as it goes and teams rarely hurt them with the same things more than a time or two without one or more guys recognizing what’s happening. Most of all though, these guys are very competitive and believe they can beat anybody.”
LOSING STREAK BROKEN
The following 14 teams broke a playoff losing streak of at least five years last Friday and are playing in the second round for the first time in a while.
The last time that the Red Devils won a playoff game was in 1977 when the TSSAA playoffs had only three classes in Class A, AA and AAA. Douglass (5-6) has shown improvement under second year coach Preston Harris as senior quarterback Monterius Freeman and junior running back Jerico Lewis have led the Red Devil offense.
Last Playoff Win- Beat Memphis East 23-0 in 1977 Class AA second round
Playoff Appearances Since Last Playoff Win- 3 (1978, 2009 and 2010)
The Knights (8-3) have improved every season under third year coach Brian Beaubien and have had a very successful eight win season this year after winning five games last season. Junior running back Antwuan Branch has been a beast all season rushing for 2,456 yards and scored 26 touchdowns.
Last Playoff Win- Beat Whites Creek 21-18 in 1999 4A Quarterfinals
Playoff Appearances Since Last Playoff Win- 5 (2005, 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2014)
East Ridge continues to impress as they remained undefeated (11-0) as junior running back and 3A Mr. Football Back Semifinalist Traneil Moore has rushed for over 1,700 yards and scored 20 touchdowns. A second win over region opponent Chattanooga Christian will give the Pioneers their first trip past the second round since a Class AAA semifinal trip back in 1970.
Last Playoff Win- Beat Knoxville Halls 28-17 in 2001 4A first round
Playoff Appearances Since Last Playoff Win- 8 (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013)
After missing the playoffs the last two years, the Fighting Irish has taken advantage of dropping down classifications from 2A to 1A and have won nine games for the first time since 1999, when they went 9-3. Senior running back Nolas Seay has rushed for 1,196 yards and scored 13 touchdowns while senior nose guard Greg Hughes has 90 tackles, 18 for loss and eight sacks while linebacker Riley Motter has 99 tackles.
Last Playoff Win- Defeated Marion County 39-15 in 2003 2A second round
Playoff Appearances Since Last Playoff Win- 2 (2011 and 2012)
The Spartans under first year coach Maurice Fitzgerald are a tough out as Josh Trueheart has passed for 1,665 yards and 18 touchdowns while linebacker James Hughes is a tackling machine as he has 131 tackles and 19 sacks. The eight wins this year are the most for Stratford since going 11-1 back in 2004.
Last Playoff Win- Defeated Hillsboro 19-13 in 2004 4A first round
Playoff Appearances Since Last Playoff Win- 1 (2006)
The Tigers (6-5) under second year head coach R.C. Helton have made their second consecutive playoff trip and only their third trip since 2004. Running back Jake Sartin has rushed for 1,003 yards and scored 13 touchdowns while freshman defensive back Hudson Petty has 59 tackles on the season.
Last Playoff Win- Defeated Monterey 20-7 in 2004 1A first round
Playoff Appearances Since Last Playoff Win- 2 (2005 and 2014)
Second year coach Bryson Rosser has the Bobcats in back to back playoffs but have taken a step forward winning their first playoff game since 2005. Junior quarterback Trey Mitchell is a smooth operator in the spread offense and loves getting the football to athlete Jeremiah Howard in open space.
Last Playoff Win- Beat Red Bank 35-19 in 2005 4A second round
Playoff Appearances Since Last Playoff Win- 3 (2006, 2012 and 2014)
Halls coach J.D. Overton has a talented trigger man in quarterback Andrew Davis who has passed for 2,223 yards and 17 touchdowns. Wide receiver J.T. Freels (69 catches, 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns) is the main weapon in the passing game, while Cooper Cook leads the rushing attack.
Last Playoff Win- Defeated Cleveland 30-22 in 2007 4A first round
Playoff Appearances Since Last Playoff Win- 0 (first appearance since 2007)
The Wildcats (5-6) started the season as a double wing offense but give coach Brad Dedman and his staff credit to changing to the I formation in previous weeks which has led to a playoff run. Last week in the Wildcats 29-9 win over Cordova, fullback Tyler Bowes rushed for 120 yards and scored twice while running back Jordan Hooper added a touchdown run as well.
Last Playoff Win- Beat Lincoln County 33-6 in 2008 5A first round
Playoff Appearances Since Last Playoff Win- 2 (2012 and 2013)
The Bulldogs (11-0) are playoff regulars making their 12th consecutive playoff appearance and picked their first playoff win since 2009. Running backs Jerry Lunsford (1,395 yards) and Adam McClain (1,111 yards) as well as quarterback Coby Jones (1,743 passing) have led a high scoring offense.
Last Playoff Win- Defeated Tellico Plains 26-12 in 2009 2A second round
Playoff Appearances Since Last Playoff Win- 5 (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014)
The Blue Devils (8-3) under Harriman alumnus Travis Tapp have made the playoffs three consecutive years and present a tough challenge. Senior running back Garrett Greene is the big weapon in the running game while MTSU commitment Trey Peters opens big holes for the Blue Devils.
Last Playoff Win- Beat Copper Basin 28-13 in 2009 1A second round
Playoff Appearances Since Last Playoff Win- 3 (2010, 2013 and 2014)
Running back Tanner Thomas (1,854 rushing yards, 26 touchdowns) has been the workhorse on the ground while quarterback Jacob Naumoff (1,773 passing yards, 15 TDs) leads the passing game. Linebacker Cole Strange has 87 tackles, including 17 for loss as well as four sacks leads the Admirals (10-1) defense.
Last Playoff Win- Defeated Sevier County 41-21 in 2010 6A first round
Playoff Appearances Since Last Playoff Win- 2 (2011 and 2013)
The Eagles (4-7) under second year coach Todd Roland have improved as junior quarterback Will Buehler leads the offense (1,136 yards, 14 total touchdowns). Running back Clay Lewis (821 rushing yards) has been a good compliment for Buehler.
Last Playoff Win- Beat DCA 31-14 in 2010 Division II-A second round
Playoff Appearances Since Last Playoff Win- 1 (2011)
Smyrna (8-3) have made the 6A playoffs four of the past five seasons under coach Matt Williams. Juniors John Turner (1,776 passing yards, 10 touchdowns) and Casey Perkins (1,110 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns) are big time options on offense as well as wide receiver Ikenne Okeye (58 catches, 787 yards) stretching the field vertically.
Last Playoff Win- Defeated Whitehaven 10-7 in 2010 6A semifinals
Playoff Appearances Since Last Playoff Win- 3 (2011, 2013 and 2014)
RANKIN FAMILY TREE
Alcoa head coach Gary Rankin will be the first to admit, the success he has had as a head coach (379-72 record and 10 state titles) didn’t happen without hard work, great players and great young assistant coaches that wanted to make a difference. Going into the second round of the TSSAA playoffs, six former Rankin assistant coaches during his time at Riverdale (1990-2005) are still playing in the playoffs as head coaches of their own programs.
Ron Crawford (Brentwood), Tracy Malone (East Ridge), Jimmy Maynord (Cookeville), Thomas McDaniel (Christian Brothers), David Watson (Blackman) and Greg Wyant (Siegel) cut their teeth under Rankin at Riverdale. They saw firsthand what it took to run their own programs and took that experience and are using it to run successful programs now.
“I’m very blessed to have had a long career but without great assistant coaches, that doesn’t happen,” Rankin said. “One of the first things I do every Friday night after our games is to see how my guys did, I’m proud of all of them and talk to them on a weekly basis.” “It’s a pretty cool honor to know that six coaches that I have a good relationship with are still coaching this week.”
Name Time at Riverdale Title Won at Riverdale
Ron Crawford 1990-92, 1995-2001 2 (1997, 2001)
Tracy Malone 1998-2002 1 (2001)
Jimmy Maynord 1990-94 1 (1994)
Thomas McDaniel 2001-05 2 (2001, 2004)
David Watson 1995-99 1 (1997)
Greg Wyant 1990-92, 1994-2005 4 (1994, 1997, 2001 and 2004)
All six coaches will lead their teams into the second round as Siegel (3-8) coached by Wyant to travel cross town and take on Blackman (9-2) coached by Watson for the second time this season. Blackman won the regular season match up in a shoot out 55-30.
East Ridge (11-0) under Malone is one of only two undefeated teams in 3A (Liberty being the other) will Chattanooga Christian who they beat two weeks ago 23-13. Maynord’s Cookeville team will travel to Maryville to take on the Rebels.
Brentwood (6-5) led by Crawford will travel to Williamson county rival Centennial, who beat the Bruins earlier in the season. McDaniel’s Christian Brothers team (9-2) will host Ensworth.
Justin Cooke, QB, Soddy Daisy- Passed for 334 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-33 loss to Oak Ridge.
Tre Carter, WR, Soddy Daisy- Caught six passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-33 loss to Oak Ridge.
Traneil Moore, RB, East Ridge- Rushed for 236 yards and scored four touchdowns in a 35-28 win over Smith County.
Antwuan Branch, RB, Kenwood- Ran for 268 yards and scored four total touchdowns in a 26-20 win over Portland.
Jimmy Ferrell, QB, Pearl Cohn- Passed for 308 yards and four touchdowns in a 40-0 win over Montgomery Central.
Terron Smith, QB, Hillwood- Rushed for 243 yards and scored twice in a 47-26 loss to Springfield.
Greedy Howse, RB, Siegel- Ran for 274 yards and scored twice in a 34-17 win over Bearden.
Anthony Foster, QB, Carver- Passed for 565 yards and eight touchdowns in a 74-43 win over South Fulton.
Tyler Beck, RB, Grace Christian Academy- Rushed for 223 yards and scored four touchdowns in a 57-40 win over Gatlinburg Pittman.
Bryson Stephens, WR, Morristown East- Caught nine passes for 202 yards and scored three touchdowns in a 20-14 loss to Knoxville West.
Noah Whaley, RB, Pigeon Forge- Ran for 292 yards and four touchdowns in a 33-28 win over Kingston.
BY THE NUMBERS
200- Career wins for Hampton head football coach Mike Lunsford.
2,813/39- Passing yards and passing touchdowns for Carver quarterback Anthony Foster.
Email Donovan at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at Examine_Stew