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Story by Zach Womble/PIcs by John Decker
PARIS, TN – The Beech Buccaneers were not supposed to be one win away from playing for a state title.
The Bucs weren’t supposed to practice on Thanksgiving, and they sure as heck weren’t supposed to be playing in the Class 5A semifinals on Friday night.
After graduation depleted most of the football team, most believed that 2018 would be a rebuilding year for coach Anthony Crabtree and the rest of the Buccaneer football program.
To Sumner County’s delight, Beech said, “to heck with your expectations, this is how we play football on Shackle Island.”
Traveling to Henry County, Beech found itself in a familiar position: just one win shy of the 5A state championship game. After defeating Hillsboro in the quarterfinal round, everyone associated with Beech knew they would get back to Cookeville.
Heck, I also believed that the magical run would not come to an end in Paris. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end as the Buccaneers fell 13-7 to the Henry County Patriots, ending the Bucs improbable season.
Trailing 7-0, Beech’s Ja’Sean Parks scored the only touchdown of the game for the Bucs when he raced 45 yards for the score, tying the game 7-7 in the second quarter.
Playing on a sloppy field, Beech never could get its offense going as the Bucs attempted just three passes all night and completed only one – a Davis Ward catch on fourth-and-10 to keep their season alive in the fourth quarter.
Ultimately, Xavier Jones’ fourth-down throw to Bobby Whitley down the left sideline fell incomplete with just under 30 seconds remaining to put an end to any Bucs comeback bid.
“These guys going into the season were underdogs, no one gave them a chance to win more than one playoff game, if that,” Beech coach Anthony Crabtree said. “These guys just kept fighting and kept getting better and I couldn’t be more proud of these group of young men than I am tonight. They played their tail off and made enough plays to win the game, but tonight, Henry County made a few more plays than we did and that was the difference in the game.”
Tied 7-7 in the second quarter, Henry County’s Jaylin Foster broke a tackle behind the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-1 and raced 25 yards for the go-ahead and what would eventually be the game-winning touchdown.
“This was a heavyweight boxing match and I didn’t expect it to go any other way,” Henry County coach Michael Aniley said in a radio interview following the game. “Beech did a great job of adjusting and we adjusted as well and I just couldn’t be more proud of our kids for the fight they showed tonight.”
The Bucs end their season at 10-4, surpassing many expectations that were placed on them in the preseason.
“I learned how resilient this group is this year,” Crabtree stated. “I learned how bad they wanted to win. They kept hanging in there and sticking around; no one ever gave up, no one quit, they kept fighting, kept trying to get better, always came to practice, worked hard and it paid off for them in the end.
“I just think this creates a standard and expectation for those guys that come into the program and for the guys that are already in the program. For the seniors next year, it kind of reiterates that this is our goal and where we expect to be every year. It’s not always going to work out but hopefully next year’s group will take this and build on it and we will see what happens.”
Story by Kyle Hancock
FRANKLIN — Despite gaining an early lead, the Page Patriots struggled to complete offensive drives, throwing interceptions and losing fumbles as the Beech Buccaneers edged the Patriots 21-14 to advance to the third round of the TSSAA Class 5A playoffs.
Cade Walker led the Patriots offense, connecting frequently with Michael Burdick and Quincy Brock-Compton. While the first Page drive ended short, the second drive saw Burdick and Compton work down field from Beech’s 39-yd line with Compton getting Page on the board with an 8-yard carry for the touchdown at 5:46.
The Bucs, switching throughout the night between Caden Cutrell and Aaron Foxx at quarterback, spent the remaining five minutes working up field from their own 20-yard line with Ja’Sean Parks and Foxx leading the way. Four seconds into the second quarter, Foxx easily drove up the middle for a 13-yard carry to tie the game 7-7.
“He’s been great the last couple of weeks,” Beech coach Anthony Crabtree said. “He’s been a man on a mission. He’s ran the ball extremely hard and I couldn’t be more proud of him. He’s having a great year.”
Page’s Til Chesire almost broke away from the pack for a clear run to the end zone, instead ended up getting tackled at the Beech 49-yd line. The Bucs forced a Patriots punt, and had to punt on their own drive.
Walker, having plenty of options to choose from, lead the Patriots up field again to the Beech 33-yard line. After the snap, Walker zoned in on Burdick, who was in the end zone and made the pass, only for it to be intercepted by Brian Colon.
With two minutes remaining, Cuttrell and Foxx continued to switch back and forth on quarterback, keeping Page guessing last minute who would be under center. Cuttrell found Parks all alone at the Beech 37-yard line and Parks put on an impressive 55-yard dash to give Beech first-and-goal with 22 seconds left in the half.
With the clocking ticking down, Cuttrell kept the ball to himself and ran for the end zone. Tackled at the 3-yard line, the ball slipped from Cuttrell’s hands and appeared to hit the end zone in the fall.
The refs conferred and didn’t rule it a fumble or touchback, and on the next play, Foxx picked up his second touchdown of the night on a 3-yard carry, giving Beech a 14-6 lead at halftime.
“Our offensive line came out hard.” Foxx said. “We didn’t know what they were going to give us, but we just stuck with it. We made some adjustments, but I give it all to my offensive linesmen.”
In the second half, Beech continued flip flopping Cuttrell and Foxx, but Page finally answered back when Compton scored on a 19-yard carry to tie things at 14-14.
As the quarter progressed, Beech slowly grabbed the upper hand. Continuous runs up the middle started gaining more yardage with the Page defenders missing tackles.
Later in the half, Page fumbled giving Beech another scoring opportunity. Page halted the Beech momentum as Page’s Simon Simmonds hauled in an interception.
Right out of the gate, Walker fumbled, recovered by Beech’s Jackson Dolan. This set up an 81-yd touchdown run on the next play from Parks, but a holding penalty called it back.
Beech kept chipping away and Foxx tallied his third touchdown of the night on a 25-yd carry with 8:05 remaining.
Page drove down the field, but with a minute remaining, Walker’s pass to an open receiver was intercepted again at the end zone, allowing Beech to come away with a 21-14 win and advance to the third round of the playoffs.
“Our guys kept fighting and kept fighting,” Crabtree said. “Found a way to make a couple plays and ultimately that was the difference in the game. We came with a couple of turnovers from our defense and that was the difference for us this game.”
Beech will travel to Overton HS to take on Hillsboro next Friday night the Class 5A quarterfinals.
Written by John Decker/Photos by John Decker
HENDERSONVILLE – In a true battle of will, the Beech Bucs outlasted the Summit Spartans 45-42 in a triple-overtime thriller to advance to the second round of the TSSAA Class 5A playoffs.
“I’m just proud of our guys, they fought their tails off tonight and we hung in there just long enough,” Beech coach Anthony Crabtree said. “I thought it would come down to who made the last mistake would lose, and that’s kind of what happened tonight.”
“We fought, play after play, overtime after overtime, and that’s all we can ever ask of these young men and we are very proud of them,” Summit coach Brian Coleman said. “That’s tough (way to lose), we knew it was going to take a turnover. We didn’t quit, kept fighting to the very end.”
Beech scored first on a 7-yard run by Ja’Sean Parks with 11 seconds left in the first quarter. Summit answered with a 35-yard TD pass from quarterback Destin Wade to George Odimegwu on the next drive.
The Bucs took the ball and scored on a 35-yard Tysean Jefferson touchdown run to make it 14-7 with 7:48 left in the first half. The Spartans answered back again with 4:25 left in the half to send the game into the intermission tied 14-14.
With the score 28-14 at the end of the third quarter, it looked like the Bucs might pull away. But Summit dug down deep, scoring on two drives powered by Wade, who completed 16 of 25 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns.
The Bucs had taken the 28-14 lead on an Aaron Fox TD run and a Kemontae Coleman blocked punt, which he also scooped up and ran in from 10 yards out.
The Spartans scored with 4:53 left in the game, cutting the deficit to 28-21 and then forced a Buccaneer punt. Driving deep into Beech territory, Wade was intercepted by Caleb Clayton, who returned the ball out of the end zone to the Beech 12-yard line.
After a long run by Foxx, Beech appeared to have scored another touchdown, but the Bucs were called for holding. They fumbled on the next play and the Spartans scored on a pass that was tipped by a Beech defender before landing in the open arms of a Spartan receiver Brayden Stem to tie the game 28-28 with just 33 seconds left.
Heading to overtime with the momentum, Summit chose to go on offense and scored on its first possession as Wade rambled around the right end for a score. The Bucs tied things up as Foxx scored from 2 yards out.
In the second OT period, Beech chose to play defense first and gave up a quick score to the Spartans on a short pass out in the left flat to Stem, who carried Beech defenders into the end zone. Beech was stopped cold on two plays before quarterback Caden Cutrell hit Foxx in the end zone, tying it 42-42.
In the third overtime period, Beech took the ball first and reached the 5-yard line when a false start penalty cost them dearly. The Bucs settled for a 27-yard Edwards field goal for a 45-42 lead.
On the next Summit possession, Wade dropped the snap and Beech’s Cameron Clark fell on it, securing the win for the Bucs.
“We ran the ball really well at times, but we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties,” Crabtree said. “With the offense we run, and the way we have been throwing the ball, you can’t afford to do that. We have to stay ahead of the chains.”
Foxx finished with 152 yards rushing and three touchdowns and Parks added an additional 132 yards on the ground.
“I thought our running backs ran hard,” Crabtree added. “We blocked well up front for the most part.
Beech (8-3) will travel to Page (10-1) next Friday in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.
“It’ll be a little better than this mud we were playing on tonight,” Crabtree joked of the artificial turf at Page High School.
Jill Fuqua’s goal in the second overtime period with 4:38 left off a Hailey Burroughs rebound gave the Lady Bucs tthe title on Saturday at Siegel Park in Murfreesboro, TN. The girls won their last nine games in a row with 4 of them going extra time, all of which were during tournament play. Dating back they have won 15 of their last 18 games to finish 16-7-1 and AA State Champs.
Trailing 1-0 at the half the Lady Bucs tied it up at 60’ when Kendra Mueller blasted one from about 40 yards out. Seymour took the lead back just 8 minutes later capatilizing on the ball getting away from Beech GK Natasia Jones as Emma Housser tapped it in.
Beech tied it back up on a Mueller free kick at 70’ from about 34 yards out. The game remained tied until regulation time ended. The Lady Bucs dominated play from the second half on outshooting the Eagles 17-7 during that time period and 6-1 in the second OT.
Story by Zacch Womble
MURFREESBORO – For the first time in school history, the Beech Lady Bucs soccer team will play for a state championship.
First-year head coach John Ferguson and the Lady Bucs defeated Greeneville in penalty kicks Thursday afternoon booking a trip to Saturday’s finale against Seymour at 11:30 a.m.
“After we got over the initial shock of how good they were, I thought we did a good job of settling in and showed some fight that we’ve learned to find within us throughout the season,” Ferguson said.
Eighty minutes of soccer was not enough to determine a winner, as both teams headed to overtime, and eventually into golden goal periods where the two teams still found themselves scoreless after 100 minutes.
“Going into extra time, every time we came back together I saw there was no nerves, there was no rawness; there was a belief that we were going to win,” Ferguson added.
The 2018 season has done a great job of preparing Beech for this game as they took part in their third extra time game in the last four matches.
“We’ve found a level of mental toughness that I’m not sure was in the program before,” Ferguson said of the fight. “That goes a long way sometimes; sometimes you have to pick a fight and hang in there as long as you can. I think we showed that this version of the Beech Buccaneers belongs in the state tournament.”
After 20 minutes of sudden death overtime, Beech won the toss to kick first in penalty kicks. Sending senior Kendra Mueller to kick first, Beech refused to be denied.
Leading 5-4 on Greeneville’s final kick, keeper Natasia Jones saved her second penalty kick, sending Beech into a frenzy as they secured the victory.
“She is a fantastic athlete that can play in the field for us as well,” Ferguson said. “We practiced with both keepers and Kendra Mueller as well at goal keeper. I let the captains decide who they wanted to play. Kendra looked me dead in the eye and said she believed in Natasia. She played so fantastic in the game, in the shootout and seeing her evaluation as a goal keeper this year has been fun.”
Beech will play Seymour in a rematch from earlier this season for the Class AA championship on Saturday.
“We gave up a late dubious free kick to lost 2-1 and I didn’t think we played well,” Ferguson said of his upcoming matchup. “Like I said I think we belong here and I think we are a team that has the mental toughness, so if we put our tactical and technical ability with that I like our chances against any team here. It will be a fun game.”
See penalty kick action here – https://twitter.com/i/status/1055567209194549250