Bucs fall in 5A Semifinals
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.”