COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- It was as old-school as it gets for a high school football game played on synthetic turf.
Boyd-Buchanan and Trousdale County practically mirrored one another in style on both sides of the ball for Saturday's Class 2A state championship game at Tennessee Tech University. Both had stubborn defensive units and offenses designed to pound opponents with physical running attacks, and there even was snow on the ground.
No single play separated the Yellow Jackets and the Buccaneers, but one player did. From the black high-top cleats and knee-high socks to the blood on his jersey, Tacola Seay resembles a throwback player from a previous generation. But Trousdale County's 6-foot, 195-pound senior doesn't just look the part; he backs it up on both sides of the ball.
Seay was the reason Trousdale County won its second straight state title and Boyd-Buchanan had to settle for the silver trophy. It's hard to imagine a single player more affecting a game, or being more valuable to his team, than Seay was against the Bucs. He ran 29 times for 136 yards and also had 11 tackles, including nine solos, and an interception to become the first player in state title-game history to earn both offensive and defensive most valuable player awards. He was the offensive MVP of last year's state championship team.
"We couldn't block him and we had just as tough a time tackling him," said Boyd-Buchanan coach Grant Reynolds, who was the defensive coordinator on the Bucs' three previous title-game appearances. "He's a man. It seemed like he was in on every play."
The two teams' season history indicated points would be scarce. After each scored on its opening possession, the defenses did in fact take over, including a memorable goal-line stand by the Bucs when they held the Yellow Jackets out of the end zone, from the 1-yard line, four times.
But on the ensuing possession, Seay made a key tackle to leave the Bucs facing a third-and-7 they did not convert, and a short punt gave Trousdale the ball at Boyd-Buchanan's 32. Aided by a 15-yard penalty, when the flag was thrown well after the play ended, the Yellow Jackets scored in just four plays but missed the point after.
With his team clinging to a six-point lead and Boyd-Buchanan in Trousdale territory with less than three minutes remaining, Seay made two key tackles, including one that stopped the Bucs short of the yardage needed on fourth down. Once Trousdale regained possession, a 9-yard run by Seay allowed the Yellow Jackets to run out the clock and claim their eighth state title in program history.
"They have a good team, they're well-coached and we knew every play would be big today," Seay said. "It wasn't easy, but winning a state championship never is. I just tried to make something happen every snap."
In last week's 7-0 semifinal win over McKenzie, Seay had 18 tackles and 134 rushing yards, leading Trousdale coach Kevin Creasy to joke that the only way his star could top that performance would be to win both the offensive and defensive MVP awards.
"Then he went out and did it," Creasy said with a smile. "I yelled at him after we got stopped on the fourth-down play. He was supposed to take it outside but cut it back inside. I guess we've got some kids who respond well to getting yelled at."