Grant Janeway’s instincts usually paid off on the football field for Science Hill, and he trusted his gut in deciding to sign with Carson-Newman.
Janeway also strongly considered Western Carolina, as well as Austin-Peay, Tusculum and Centre College, where his brother Greyson, a former Hilltopper, now plays. But Janeway was sold on Carson-Newman down the homestretch, especially after speaking with legendary head coach Ken Sparks and assistant Mike Turner, a former Science Hill head coach.
“I developed a pretty good relationship with him (Turner) the past month or so,” Janeway said after signing Wednesday at Science Hill’s gym. “They do things right with everything they do – not just with football, but outside of football and their whole life. That’s another thing that won me over.”
Sparks has been at Carson-Newman since 1980. He recorded his 300th victory this season. He’s won 21 South Atlantic Conference titles, five NAIA national championships, finished runner-up once in NAIA and has lost in the national championship game three times since moving to NCAA Division II.
Sparks, who guided the Eagles to the playoffs this past season despite battling cancer, thinks he might have another title run left in his tank.
“He said that when I went up there on a visit, actually,” Janeway said. “I think they could definitely do it again, for sure. … Coach Sparks does things right. I mean, a coach that can stay there that long and do what he has there will obviously have a great impact on me.”
The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Janeway made 85 tackles this season. He also made critical catches at tight end and scored three touchdowns, but defense was where he shined brightest.
“He’ll be a linebacker (in college),” Science Hill linebackers coach Doug Cooper said, “because that’s where his heart is.”
A first-team All-Big Eight selection that played in two All-Star games, Janeway had seven tackles for loss last season, including three sacks, and recovered two fumbles. He has 4.7 speed, a nose for the ball and a high football IQ.
“He was a quarterback on the field,” Cooper said. “Anything we did, we ran through him. … He made some big plays at critical times. He had some in the Morristown West game, and he played outstanding against Elizabethton. In fact, Elizabethton his junior year was one of his better games, but he had good games every week.”
Janeway’s favorite memories include shutting out Daniel Boone this season. He helped preserve it with an interception near the goal line.
“That was a fun game just because my dad (Hal) went there (to Daniel Boone),” Janeway said.
Despite losing 37-34 after leading 34-19 in the fourth quarter, playing before an overflow crowd at Dobyns-Bennett in a battle of unbeatens in this past season’s regular-season finale is a night Janeway still enjoys revisiting.
“Looking back, that game was a lot of fun,” he said. “I enjoyed it a lot – just not the outcome.”
Janeway appreciated playing his career in the new Kermit Tipton Stadium for Stacy Carter, who arrived the same season as the stadium.
“Coach Carter has turned things around in a drastic measure,” Janeway said. “And he’s brought in good coaches here.”
Carter sees a bright future for Janeway in Jefferson City.
“I think he’s gonna have a great career down there at Carson-Newman,” Carter said. “Coach Turner and Coach Sparks and that bunch are a perfect fit for him. … He’s athletic. People want to talk about his work ethic all the time, which is great, but he’s talented, too. … Him and Tate Isbell were as solid a leaders as I’ve had in a long time.”
One of Janeway's lasting images from his Hilltoppers career was seeing Isbell play against Dobyns-Bennett with a torn ACL.
Carson-Newman's Coach Turner was on the sideline for that exciting game, and saw the usual toughness from Janeway, too. Turner saw several Science Hill games.
"The first thing I noticed was what kind of competitor he is," Turner said. "Every time I saw him play, that stood out. ... The coaches at Science Hill just felt like he was a valuable player offensively and defensively, and said that he was a leader. And you can never find enough kids like that."
A torn elbow ligament will keep Science Hill alumnus Will Carter from pitching his sophomore season at Walters State. Carter, who transferred from East Tennessee State after last season, is scheduled to have Tommy John surgery Feb. 26 in Knoxville.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Carter said. “This could end up being a good thing.”
The silver lining for Carter was that he signed early with Tennessee last fall.
“The guy doing my surgery worked under James Andrews for a year,” Carter said.
Carter was looking forward to playing for Science Hill graduate Ken Campbell at Walters State. But he’ll be at UT next season.
The 6-foot-3 Carter threw 93 mph last summer, and said he felt like he was throwing even harder at times during the fall.
“It’s a heartbreaker for Will to have suffered an injury like this, especially after the hard work he has put in this fall and the improvements he was making,” Walters State assistant David Shelton said via email. “We feel like he was setting himself up for a great season with us, and at the same time, setting himself up for this June’s MLB Draft. … One good thing is that it is his elbow, and doctors have now perfected that surgery to the point where the majority of pitchers come back stronger from it.”
Football coach Stacy Carter says Science Hill’s state of the art campus is lacking at least one necessity, an adequately sized football fieldhouse.
Athletic director Keith Turner initially hoped it could be completed within a year of the move into Kermit Tipton Stadium, which has now been used for three seasons. Turner said some $500,000 is either in hand or has been pledged thanks to six-figure donations from Steve Spurrier and Cotty Jones, as well as generous offerings from Champion Chevrolet, the Zervos family, Rab Summers and Ralph Van Brocklin.
Carter said Science Hill’s fieldhouse (6,300 square feet) needs to be at least twice that size. He said Dobyns-Bennett’s is around 20,000.
Carter and Turner would like the fieldhouse on field level at Tipton Stadium, probably behind the stands where the band members sit.
Turner said more donations are needed. Another complement could be a city loan, which he said could be paid back with advertising revenue from the football stadium video board. Turner said such advertising has averaged approximately $50,000 during the first three seasons.
“Our weight room has always been inadequate for a school our size and the programs that we have and the success that they’ve had,” Turner said. “What a new fieldhouse and weight room does for us is make it better for every team, not just football. It opens up the other weight room to where some teams aren’t having to come in at 5:30 in the morning. It helps our P.E. curriculum to where we could offer more if we want to.”
Science Hill looked at the 10,000-square-foot facility Bearden built in recent years. Turner said he thought the price for that was around $1 to 1.2 million.