It’s difficult to compare different sports, but it would be hard to imagine any kind of criteria that would leave Brandon Kind out of the best-coach-in-Northeast-Tennessee conversation.
The Hilltoppers lost to eventual state champion Franklin — the nation’s No. 2-ranked team — in last week’s Class AAA state soccer semifinals during the Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, but Kind pushed his team through 22 games without a loss before the setback.
Here’s a power-point look at what sets Kind apart:
— Passion for the game
This is the calling card for Kind, who has guided Science Hill to the state tournament three times in his five seasons as head coach and led his team to three victories at that level. His passion is European, and that’s a high compliment.
— Understanding how to prepare a team
It doesn’t take a soccer expert to see Science Hill’s fluid movement with the ball. There’s a connection between players only matched by a handful of team across the state.
— Getting players to drain their savings to purchase effort tickets
Science Hill plays hard. Watching John Huffman sprint like he was chased by a steroid-raged gorilla for a ball that was clearly going out of bounds in a game where Science Hill was comfortably ahead is just one picture of a group that buys what the coach is selling.
— Respect from peers
When coaches of good soccer teams take one on the chin from Science Hill and then talk about what a good coach Kind is, that’s one of the highest compliments that can be paid.
Yes, Science Hill fell short of its state-title goal, but it took an extraordinary team to hand the Hilltoppers their first loss of the season. And Science Hill (21-1-1) still set a school record for victories.
The Hilltoppers were turned away 3-0 by Franklin, which went on to win its second straight Class AAA title by beating Collierville, 1-0.
Franklin finished 19-0-0 and is ranked No. 2 in the nation in the Student Sports Fab 50 poll. Science Hill is ranked No. 16. A new poll is scheduled to be released today.
Franklin is 37-0-2 over the last two seasons. The Rebels shut out 16 opponents and allowed just five goals all season.
Dobyns-Bennett’s baseball team enjoyed one of its best-ever seasons in 2014.
The Indians finished with 34 wins, which was the third most in school history. The 1999 team won 39 games, somehow managing to play 43 games even though it didn’t reach the state tournament. Knox Farragut knocked off the Tribe in the sectional.
In 2001, D-B racked up 35 wins but once again got whipped, 8-0, by the dreaded Admirals.
D-B won 33 games in 2006, 2007 and 2012.
It will be interesting to see if D-B breaking through with a state tournament win will lead to more success in Murfreesboro. The Indians went 0-2 last year, but got a gutsy losers’ bracket win over Dyer County this year.
Winning in Murfreesboro can breed winning as Science Hill proved. The Hilltoppers parlayed a state tournament win in 2006 into back-to-back years of reaching the bracket final (2007, 2008).
The Hilltoppers also won a game in 2010, but haven’t been back to the state tournament since. They lost to Maryville in the sectional in 2011, and have since suffered three straight region semifinal losses.
Greeneville was maybe a few plays away from having a legitimate shot at a Class AA state softball championship.
The Greene Devils defeated eventual state champion Dyersburg by a score of 6-4 in the first round before being eliminated by the Lady Trojans in a tough 4-2 decision in the losers’ bracket semifinal.
Defense was a shortcoming for the Lady Greene Devils in the tournament despite producing arguably the best play in the event. Selena Leon’s home run-robbing catch and flip over the left-center field fence with one out in the seventh inning saved Greeneville’s 3-2 win over Sequatchie County. It was probably the play of the year for spring sports in Northeast Tennessee.
With pitcher Jordan Fortel back in the circle for her senior season, Greeneville will be a threat to win the Class AA state title in 2015 — but Unicoi County will be loaded as well and hungry for a return to The Boro.
North Greene head baseball coach Tim Lady has always been someone who gets a lot out of his players. This year he got the Huskies to within two wins of playing for a state title.
Graduation hits North Greene hard, but there is enough talent returning for the Huskies to still be among the top Class A teams in the area.
CAK ended Unicoi County’s baseball season in the sectional with a 7-0 decision while Knox Catholic stopped Sullivan South 2-1 in the same round.
Since CAK defeated Catholic 6-5 on Parker Cochran’s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning for the Class AA state title, it’s an indication how close Unicoi and South were to making some noise in The Boro.
Unicoi really got hurt by a region semifinal rain delay that stretched freshman standout pitcher Brandon Garland to a four-hour performance from start to finish. Garland wasn’t at his sharpest in the sectional loss to CAK four days later.
It’s not fair to say Unicoi and South were the third- and fourth-best teams in the state, but it’s not a stretch either.
Gordonsville absolutely dominated the Class A state softball tournament.
University High didn’t get a shot at the eventual champion, but it would have been a tough challenge because the Lady Tigers didn’t allow a run throughout the tournament. They won 8-0, 8-0, 2-0 and then beat Knoxville Grace Christian by a score of 3-0 in the title game.
Cori Jennings was the author of the masterful performances in the circle for Gordonsville, which finished 32-10.
East Tennessee State University could get a look at the Chattanooga signee next year. Jennings finished the year with a record of 32-3 and an ERA of 0.72.
Corryton Gibbs proved its move up from Class AA wasn’t going to put a damper on its longtime softball tradition.
But the Lady Eagles fell just short of winning the Class AAA title. After a 2-1 loss to Coffee County in the opening round, Gibbs bounced back with four straight wins to reach the reach the title game against Dickson County.
Needing two wins to earn its 10th state softball title, Gibbs was handcuffed by Dickson sophomore Brooklin Lee in a 4-1 decision. Lee whiffed 16 batters for Gibbs, which finished at 50-6.
Dickson, which was the 2002 Class AAA state champ, finished 45-7.
Prep signings: There has been a large amount in recent weeks, and some to come. Here’s the rundown:
— Science Hill’s Addison Adams will make it official in baseball with Tennessee Wesleyan on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the new gym.
— Science Hill’s Kyle Ouelette (Walters State, baseball), Tucker McPherson (Milligan, baseball), Calvin Songster (Maryville, basketball), Cole Greer (Belmont Abbey, soccer), and Noah Schaflin (Lincoln Memorial University, soccer) signed deals.
— Unicoi County’s Ethan Rice (Walters State, baseball) and Austin Green (Walters State, baseball).
— Daniel Boone’s Ashton Wilson (ETSU, cross country), Joshua Ignace (Indiana Tech, soccer); Caleb Cutshall (Tusculum, cross country); Jacob Cutshall (Tusculum, cross country), Sierra Hanson (Tusculum, cross country), Allie Littleton (King, basketball), and Dillon Reppart (Roan State, basketball) signed scholarships. The average GPA of those seven students is 3.75.
— Former Unaka basketball player Billy Bales and former Elizabethton player Michael Wagner signed to play at Lenoir-Rhyne University.
— Tennessee High’s Chase Branscomb (Emory & Henry, basketball), Katie Fox (New York University, swimming), Blakeleigh Mathis (University of the Cumberlands, swimming), Justin McCarty (Carson-Newman, swimming), Alex Rosenbaum (Averett College, volleyball) and Ricky Ward (New River Community College, baseball) signed deals.
— Five Providence Academy athletes signed with Milligan College: Kyler Williams and Jeffrey Schoondyke (soccer), Caleb Sprouse and Cody Sprouse (basketball) and Jake Weaver (baseball).comments powered by Disqus