Last Nov. 18, Boyd-Buchanan’s Buccaneers had one play and 6 yards of territory to work with to protect their end zone. Doing so meant moving on to a TSSAA Class 2A football state semifinal.
The Bucs believe they defended enough turf on the fourth-down overtime play to win. Boyd-Buchanan coach Grant Reynolds said every video angle he watched of Friendship Christian quarterback Brennan Swindoll’s scramble shows he came up short of the goal line.
But the record book shows otherwise. The record book also shows Friendship Christian — a 21-20 winner at Boyd-Buchanan that night — as the classification’s 2011 state champion.
That’s because after that November victory, the Commanders disposed of their next two opponents by a combined score of 73-6. That makes the Bucs believe even more that the gold hardware Friendship took from Cookeville back to Lebanon in early December should’ve been headed to Chattanooga.
“It’s motivation for our kids every day,” Reynolds said. “If there’s anything we learned, we learned as a team that we have to do everything we can do to see that it doesn’t happen again. We have to leave no doubt and not let it come down to that.”
Defensive end Grant Mathis and outside linebacker Cody Payne are returning seniors and were the closest Bucs to get to Swindoll on the controversial play. Mathis helped flush him out of the pocket and to his left; then he pursued. Swindoll eventually lunged and knocked over the pylon at the goal line.
“I thought he was short,” Mathis said. “I tried to say ‘No good,’ but they signaled touchdown.”
The Bucs camp claims there is video evidence showing he bounced off the ground before striking the pylon. Payne was in on the tackle.
“I got to him,” Payne said. “When I got up I was at about the 4-yard line. I don’t know anybody that’s 4 yards long.”
Reynolds said he mostly hates what happened for the eight seniors who graduated. He’ll have more chances to chase a state title. They won’t.
The remaining Bucs have resigned themselves to being unable to change the past. However, they do believe they can do something about the future — the immediate future.
“It’s just one of those what-ifs,” Mathis said. “It’s definitely motivation for us. This time we’re not going to settle for anything less than a state championship.”
Boyd Buchanan Buccaners
Coach: Grant Reynolds (51-27 in six seasons here)
Stadium: David L. Boyd Field
Address: 4626 Bonnieway Drive, Chattanooga, TN 37411
2011 STATS LEADERS
RUSHING Att Yards Avg TD
Chase Reed 183 1,263 6.9 20
*John Hale 92 636 6.9 8
*Jim Cardwell 106 458 4.3 9
PASSING Comp-Att Yards Int TD
*Jim Cardwell 92-144 1,106 6 6
RECEIVING Att Yards Avg TD
Kyle Thomas 15 254 16.9 0
*Grant Mathis 12 185 15.4 2
TACKLES Solo Assists Total
Stephen Ingram 62 38 100
*Rance Harden 59 29 88
*Austin Hall 34 24 58
*Austin Bailey 31 17 48
* returning player
FAN’S GUIDE TO THIS YEAR’S BOYD-BUCHANAN BUCCANEERS
Boyd-Buchanan’s program has enjoyed much success, starting with its first unbeaten regular season 16 years ago. The Bucs have been to four state finals since then. They felt they had a good opportunity to add a second state championship last season, but fate was unkind in the quarterfinal round. Here’s a look at the regular-season win total for the last five years:
Aug. 17 at Chattanooga Christian
Aug. 24 East Ridge
Aug. 31 at Silverdale Baptist*
Sept. 7 Howard
Sept. 14 Grace Academy*
Sept. 21 Donelson Christian Academy
Oct. 5 Unaka
Oct. 12 at South Pittsburg
Oct. 19 Maplewood
Oct. 26 Copper Basin*
*District 5-A game
1) Boyd-Buchanan has the luxury of returning a three-year starting quarterback, and he still isn’t a senior. Junior Jim Cardwell should know the offense forward and backward by now. His father, Carter, is the offensive coordinator.
2) Despite graduating a 1,000-yard rusher who was also their leading scorer, the Bucs feel they’ll be able to plug senior John Hale into the tailback spot without regressing. Classmate Rance Harden will get more playing time in the backfield, too, and his power should complement Hale’s speed.
3) No team in the TSSAA should be any more motivated than the Bucs. They feel the gold trophy Friendship Christian hoisted in Cookeville last December should be in their trophy case.
1) Even at a program where winning seasons have been more the norm than the exception in the last 15-plus years, depth issues are common for small schools. Offensive line is one such area for the Bucs this year.
2) Boyd-Buchanan under Reynolds always seems to have a competent, if not standout, secondary. But if some reserves have to step in for any length of time, things could get testy back there.
3) Thanks to a painful season-ending one-point overtime loss last November, the Bucs’ team psyche could be tried should they find themselves losing a close game late.
BY THE NUMBERS
3 — Losing seasons for Boyd-Buchanan in the last 14 years, and they were in succession (2005-07).
8 — Seniors on last year’s 10-2 state-quarterfinal team.
34 — State-playoff victories for the Bucs since gaining their first berth in 1996.
Three questions with ...
Senior fullback and linebacker
Q. Which of your positions do you like best and why?
A. This year I’m going to be seeing more time on offense than I have in the past. Last year we had Chase Reed and John Hale working in the backfield and I would come in and give either of them a break, kind of work with the more power situations. I have had more time at linebacker. I started that my sophomore year. I just like it better. We have a good defense and I just like to go after the ball.
Q. What was it like to have your season end on a controversial call in a state quarterfinal last year?
A. It really was a tough pill to swallow, especially after watching them progress further and further with as much dominance. We felt like we lost our state championship that game. A lot of people want to blame the refs for that game, but to be a state-championship team you really have to take it in your own hands and you can’t really let it come to that point. We had so many opportunities to end the game before then.
Q. What can this year’s team accomplish if everything comes together?
A. Anything we put our minds to. We have a solid team this year — a lot of returning seniors. I think we had a great senior class last year, but I think we have, with that experience, that last game last season, it’s made us this year all the much stronger. So I think we can do anything we want.
1 Jim Cardwell Junior
2 Brogen Baker Junior
3 Tucker Wingo Senior
5 Caleb Antwine Senior
6 Colby Arendale Junior
7 Skyler Anderson Sophomore
8 Preston Bailey Senior
9 Thatcher Smith Senior
10 Austin Hall Senior
12 Grant Mathis Senior
13 Jayson Smith Junior
14 Ethan Cochran Sophomore
15 Rance Harden Senior
16 Chris Lyon Junior
17 Cooper Hodge Freshman
18 Seth Caudle Sophomore
21 Damaris Macon Sophomore
22 Cameron Pope Junior
23 Cody Payne Senior
25 E.J. Matthews Freshman
29 John Hale Senior
30 Jacob Gambrell Sophomore
31 Isaiah Dillard Freshman
32 Devin Spiegelhalter Freshman
33 Austin Jackson Sophomore
34 Jake Harden Freshman
37 Andy Floyd Junior
40 Brandon Spurling Sophomore
41 Blake Stevens Junior
44 Chase Miller Senior
50 Jacob Graham Freshman
51 Alex Roland Sophomore
52 Stephen Ingram Senior
53 Colton Robinson Senior
55 Austin Bailey Senior
56 Calvin Conn Sophomore
61 Jordan Raines Freshman
63 Eli Legg Freshman
64 Zach Goodman Senior
65 Chris Henry Junior
67 Caleb Campbell Senior
70 Kell Langley Sophomore
72 Christian Richards Sophomore
76 Ben Moore Junior
78 Malik Brewer Senior
80 Hunter Payne Sophomore
86 Jack Keebler Freshman
88 Carter Broome Freshman
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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