Sequoyah hires Spencer Beaty as girls basketball coach

Spencer Beaty, a former Maryville College basketball assistant and one-time girls coach at Gatlinburg-Pittman High School, was announced as Sequoyah’s girls basketball coach on Monday.

“Sequoyah is an area very similar to the area I grew up,” said Beaty, raised in Jamestown, Tenn. “It’s small-knit, a lot of pride. They’re close to home. I don’t have to move. I can continue to live where I live in Maryville and go there. Nothing hurts the fact they’ve had success.”

Beaty, 39, replaces Eddie Gambrell, who resigned in March amid an “unfortunate situation” of which neither he nor Sequoyah administrators elaborated. Beaty takes over a program on the heels of consecutive Class AA state sectional appearances.

“Obviously, these girls and this community have things going right,” Beaty said. “And that’s good. Expectations are high, and nobody’s expectations are as high as mine. They expect to win, and I’m excited for that challenge.”

Beaty returns to coaching after four-year break. He last served as an assistant on Mark Eldridge’s boys basketball staff at Maryville from 2007-2011. His only girls basketball experience came during the 2006-07 season, when he guided a struggling Gatlinburg-Pittman program to a 13-12 finish to earn district coach of the year honors.

“I have still been at Maryville teaching (since I left coaching),” Beaty said. “I just had to battle through some personal and family issues, so I got out of coaching. I had to readjust, but I’m ready to get back into it. My kids and family are intact, so it’s time to move forward.”

Beaty also served as a women’s basketball assistant at Maryville College, his alma mater, for one season after graduating, before joining the men’s staff for four more. He coached in five Division III NCAA Tournaments, and played in two more as a player for the Scots.

Bearden’s Alaeni Ray decides not to walk on at Tennessee

Former Bearden High School softball standout Alaeni Ray plans to enroll at Chattanooga State this upcoming season instead of accepting a preferred walk-on spot at Tennessee.

Lori Ray, Alaeni’s mother, confirmed the news to the News Sentinel on Sunday night.

“Alaeni has changed her commitment from UT,” Lori Ray said. “She decided a few weeks ago to go to Chattanooga State. She just wanted to be ready before she went to a bigger school, and we know UT has a lot of girls coming in this year, and she wanted to make sure she was in her top form.”

Ray, a skilled shortstop, earned All-PrepXtra first-team honors this past season, helping Bearden make its first Class AAA state tournament appearance by batting .409 with five homers.

Hardin Valley’s Joe Michalski, four area baseball players honored

Hardin Valley Academy’s Joe Michalski has been named coach of the year on American Family Insurance’s All-USA baseball team for Tennessee.

The lists, which were revealed on Wednesday by USA Today Sports, were compiled based on players’ athletic achievements during the 2015 season.

Michalski also earned PrepXtra Coach of the Year honors this past season after guiding the Hawks to their first Class AAA state championship. Here’s the writeup on Michalski from the release:

“Going 1-for-1 is perfect. It’s also pretty amazing, considering Michalski skippered Hardin Valley into its first state tournament this year (the school opened in 2008) and won it all. The Hawks broke open a 2-2 score in the ninth inning by scoring eight runs in the Class AAA title game against rival (and defending champion) Farragut in May. Hardin Valley finished 30-15.”

Four players from the PrepXtra coverage area were named to the teams.

Farragut pitcher Patrick Raby, who was named PrepXtra Pitcher of the Year the past two seasons, joined senior teammate Chase Fullington (second base) and Grainger’s Trey Cabbage (third base) on the first team. Fullington signed with North Carolina. Cabbage signed with Tennessee, before opting for a pro contract with the Minnesota Twins. He was drafted in the fourth round of last month’s Major League Baseball draft.

Catholic catcher Kole Cottam, named PrepXtra Offensive Player of the Year this past season, garnered second-team honors.


TBCA announces all-state baseball teams

The Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association announced its all-state teams on Monday, and 23 players from the PrepXtra coverage area, who are noted in bold, made the cut:

Class AAA


Donnie Everett, Clarksville
Alex Hicks, Collierville
Drew Pierce, Dobyns-Bennett
Will Neely, Hardin Valley
Patrick Raby, Farragut
Dylan King, Riverdale
Jonathan Davis, Columbia
Grant Williams, Hendersonville
Micah Kaczor, Ravenwood
Josh Smith, Bartlett
Will Heflin, Morristown West
Ethan Roberts, White County


Hunter Wolfe, Dobyns-Bennett
Landon Knack, Science Hill
Bryce Denton, Ravenwood
Deon Sanders, Centennial
Duncan Pence, Farragut
Zach Sears, Hardin Valley
Truman Brown, Rossview
Bradley Wilson, Rossview
Jack Kenley, Houston
Nick Woods, East Hamilton
Dillon Clift, Soddy-Daisy
Alex Webb, Columbia
Chas Hadden, Sevier County


Isaac Barkley, Davy Crockett
Justin Ammons, Bartlett
Devon Gardner, Heritage
David Beam, Bearden
Dylan Harris, Hardin Valley
Blake Benefield, Siegel
Landon Mosteller, Clarksville
Tyler Gentry, Arlington

Class AA


Ethan Small, Lexington
Zack King, Spring Hill
Winston Cannon, Upperman
David Bates, Christ Presbyterian
Ethan Elliott, Catholic
Sam Garner, Cascade
Grant Oliver, Westmoreland
Eric Ezell, Lipscomb Academy


Colton Norrod, CAK
Josh Johnson, CAK
Trey Cabbage, Grainger
Cooper Mayes, Hickman County
Darek Sargent, Central Magnet
Kyle Higgie, Creek Wood
Zac Akey, Gatlinburg-Pittman
Devin Davenport, Pigeon Forge
Alex Darras, Notre Dame
Kole Cottam, Catholic
Phillip Clark, Christ Presbyterian
John Elford, Crockett County
Tanner Barkley, Chuckey-Doak
Bryant Goolsby, Smith County


Jordan Jackson, Central Magnet
Bailey Baker, Sycamore
Jeremiah Nance, Crockett County
Hal Bishop, Fulton
Jesse Smallen, Loudon
Charlie McCann, Sullivan South

Class A


Drew Hall, Goodpasture
Tanner Fee, Grace Christian
Timmy Beard, Summertown
David Looney, Cornersville
Justin Castell, South Greene
Troy Hall, North Greene
Lane Eden, East Robertson
Kobe Foster, Huntland
Brandon Willingham, Boyd Buchanan
Matthew Pickard, Peabody


Alex Brewer, Forrest
Bryce Giles, Summertown
Chandler Adkins, Grace Christian
Cade Evans, Boyd Buchanan
Tyler Reed, South Pittsburg
Seth Price, Watertown
Hunter Hudson, Peabody
Tanner Sexton, Oneida
Justin Moore, Oakdale
Laderrick Means, Adamsville


Colby Morgan, Boyd Buchanan
Ben Clift, Huntingdon
Scott Lentz, Columbia Academy
Miles Humphreys, Jackson Christian

Division II A/AA


Connor Greene, St. George
Ryan Rollison, University School of Jackson
Jake Criswell, Harding Academy
Sam Folks, Battle Ground Academy
James Muse, Christian Brothers
Ryan Victory, Brentwood Academy
Mason Hickman, John Paul II
Tyler Watson, Christian Brothers
Corbin Brooksbank, McCallie


Connor Sanders, Tipton-Rosemark
Sadler Goodwin, Evangelical Christian
Casey Queener, Franklin Road Academy
Ben Glass, St. George’s
Garrett Guyman, University School of Jackson
Bailey Wimberly, First Assembly Christian
Walker Grisanti, Christian Brothers
Tyler Payne, McCallie
Thomas Dillard, Briarcrest
Logan Stewart, Tipton-Rosemark
Von Watson, Briarcrest
Brock Beeler, Webb


Logan Carey, University School of Jackson
Alex Smith, Evangelical Christian
Logan Taylor, John Paul II


Rivalry Thursday football schedule

The 2015 “Rivalry Thursday” football television schedule. All games televised by MyVLT unless noted.

Aug. 20: West at Hardin Valley
27: Sevier County at West
29: Fulton at Maryville (WVLT)
Sept. 3: Northview at Pigeon Forge
10: Campbell County at Grace Christian
17: Carter at Central
24: Oak Ridge at Sevier County
Oct. 1: Dobyns-Bennett at Maryville
8: Clinton at CAK
15: TBA
22: Farragut at South-Doyle
29: TBA

Kyle Koeneman named Seymour baseball coach

Kyle Koeneman has been hired as Seymour High School’s baseball coach.

Koeneman, a former standout for the Eagles who earned Class AA all-state honors as a first baseman in 2007,  announced his hiring on his Twitter account late Tuesday.

Seymour athletic director Gary Householder then confirmed the hire in a text message to the News Sentinel.

Koeneman replaces Scott Norman, who retired from coaching after 16 seasons on May 6. Koeneman established himself as one of Tennessee’s premier power hitters under Norman’s tutelage at Seymour from 2004-07, hitting 50 career homers, including a state-high 18 as a freshman.

Koeneman signed with Walters State out of high school, before transferring to LSU for one season and finishing his college career at Carson-Newman, where he earned All-America honors. Koeneman signed a minor-league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2012, playing one season for Rookie-affiliate Missoula.

Five-star Oak Ridge WR Tee Higgins offered by Auburn basketball

Tee Higgins, a five-star junior wide receiver prospect from Oak Ridge High School, has been offered by Auburn basketball, according to a post on his Twitter account on Tuesday.

It’s the second basketball offer Higgins, along with Middle Tennessee State, but by far the most intriguing. The combo guard also holds offers from many of the nation’s top football programs, including Alabama and Ohio State.

Tennessee also has offered Higgins, a 6-foot-4, 175-pound athlete.

Higgins garnered all-state honors in both football and basketball this past season, and was named PrepXtra Boys Basketball Sophomore of the Year after helping Oak Ridge reach the Class AAA state tournament. He led the Wildcats in scoring, averaging 13.9 points, six rebounds and three assists per game.

Auburn (15-20, 4-14 SEC) finished 13th in the SEC this past season, Bruce Pearl’s first with the program. Pearl coached at Tennessee for six seasons (2005-11).

Alabama offers Catholic sophomore OL Cade Mays

Rising Catholic sophomore offensive lineman Cade Mays has picked up a scholarship offer from Alabama.

Mays, who attended an Alabama football camp in Tuscaloosa this week, revealed the news on his Twitter account on Tuesday. Mays also holds offers from Tennessee, Florida State, Clemson, Ole Miss and Texas A&M, among others.


The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Mays garnered All-PrepXtra second-team and MaxPreps Freshman All-American honors last season after helping the Irish average more than 400 yards per game.

His father, Kevin Mays, played for Tennessee from 1991-94, and was an All-SEC offensive guard for the Vols during his senior season.

My top moments from the 2014-15 high school sports seasons

It’s been eight months — eight months and one day, to be exact — since I returned to Knoxville, dropping in during the thick of football season.
There’s been plenty to keep me busy, but now that I’ve had a chance to catch my breath, here are six items I’ll remember from this past school year:

Rankin’s Reign: Alcoa High School football coach Gary Rankin established himself as the state’s standard for coaching success last season, when he became Tennessee’s all-time wins leader after the Tornadoes’ 28-19 Class 3A state semifinal win over Chattanooga Notre Dame on Nov. 28.
Rankin, who is 369-71 all-time, owns 10 state championships, including four at Riverdale and six at Alcoa.

Blackmon Shines on Big Stage: Maybe it’s all that good voodoo Maryville has accrued over the years, but the Rebels have a knack for prevailing on high school football’s biggest stage, regardless the odds.
It can thank sophomore linebacker T.D. Blackmon for delivering the good vibes in 2014.
Blackmon helped Maryville win its 15th state championship by blocking a kick to force overtime and intercepting Cole Brown’s 2-point pass moments later to cap the Rebels’ thrilling 35-34 win over Ravenwood in the Class 6A title game at Tennessee Tech’s Tucker Stadium in December.
Blackmon forced overtime when he blocked Crews Holt’s 35-yard field goal attempt as time expired in regulation. The Rebels trailed 20-7 after the first quarter, before rallying to tie it by the end of the third. West also won a state title (its first in Class 5A), and Fulton and Webb three-peated, but no game titled the drama meter as much as Maryville-Ravenwood.

Hardin Valley’s Crescendo: Hardin Valley Academy’s baseball team might have been new to the Class AAA state tournament party, but it capped its debut in style. The Hawks scored eight ninth-inning runs to stun reigning champion and District 4-AAA rival Farragut 10-2 in Murfreesboro last month, securing their first championship.
HVA had never previously advanced past the Region 2-AAA tournament, despite some regular-season success in district play. Grace Christian Academy baseball (Class A)  and Greeneville softball (Class AA) also won state title for the first time.

Coaching Carousels: Scott Cummings ended his 13-year run as West High’s football coach with his most memorable triumph: a 23-6 win over Nashville Hillsboro in the Class 5A title game on Dec. 5. Cummings resigned a month later for the Cleveland High football job, and has since been replaced by Loudon’s Jeff Harig in one of several marquee shifts in the PrepXtra landscape in the past eight months. Others include:

  • Shadowens Lands at WB: Few hires were as big as William Blount landing Philip Shadowens, a two-time state champion coach who resigned as Murfreeboro Blackman’s football coach before resurfacing with the Governors.
  • Culbreth Retires: Farragut boys soccer coach Wallie Culbreth retired after 14 seasons. Culbreth coached the Admirals to four of their five state championships, along with a national championship in 2004 and national runner-up finish in 2003. He earned multiple PrepXtra coach of the year honors, and was named national high school coach of the year by ESPN in 2010.
  • Boydstone Returns to Georgia: Joby Boydstone resigned as Carter’s boys basketball coach after two fast-paced — and successful — seasons, opting to return to Georgia, his former state where he spent more than 30 years before coming to Knoxville in 2013. The Hornets returned to old form under Boydstone, making consecutive trips to the Class AA state tournament. Boydstone, who cited a “tremendous job opportunity” for his wife as the reason for his exit, now is the boys basketball coach at  East Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga.
  • Other Exits: Jim Gaylor was fired as Maryville’s baseball coach, but chose to stay on as defensive coordinator for the football team. … Mike McLean, who built Hardin Valley’s soccer program from the ground up, resigned after coaching the Hawks to the Class AAA state semifinals this season. McLean is moving to Atlanta.  … Scott Norman resigned as Seymour’s baseball coach after 16 seasons.

Eleven in Basketball State Tournament: Eleven teams from the PrepXtra coverage area advanced to the basketball state tournament this year, including six girls programs (Webb, Bearden, Morristown West, McMinn Central, Grainger and Oliver Springs) and five boys (Oak Ridge, Maryville, Fulton, Carter and Grace Christian).  The grouping produced one state champion (Webb, Division II-A), three finalists (Webb, McMinn Central and Fulton) and eight semifinalists. Oak Ridge and Maryville were the only teams not to advance past the first round.

Snowed In: Consistent waves of wintry precipitation disrupted the basketball postseason, and forced the TSSAA into action. Only a handful of district tournaments were completed in the PrepXtra coverage area due to ice and snow, and region tournaments were postponed long enough for the TSSAA to move back its state sectional deadline, nixing the draw for the state tournament.

Sevier County’s Chas Hadden commits to Belmont

Former Sevier County baseball standout Chas Hadden has committed to Belmont University, according to a post on his Twitter account on Saturday.

Hadden, who transferred from Morristown West prior to his senior year, helped the Smoky Bears reach the Region 1-AAA tournament as a senior this past season.