The 12th annual Clarksville Area High School Kickoff Luncheon was hosted on Wednesday, Aug. 14 at First Baptist Church in downtown Clarksville. 

At the event, each Montgomery County football coach was given the chance to deliver an update on the status of their team and give insight on how they have prepared for the upcoming season.

Following an opening address from new Austin Peay football coach Mark Hudspeth, the high school ringleaders were given their chance to speak:


Jeff Tomlinson, Montgomery Central:

After opening with a statement that the team has been bitten by the injury bug, the longest tenured coach in Montgomery County noted that the Indians are not interested in feeling bad for themselves. He gave three metaphors for their relentless attitude that has been instilled in the team’s locker room. 

First, Tomlinson noted three types of mountain climbers: quitters, campers and climbers. He said the Indians intend on being climbers who go further than the rest of the pack.

He then delivered a tale of an injured American solider in Afghanistan, who became paralyzed yet still crawled seven miles to safety.

Lastly, he introduced everyone to the team’s new motto: 212, the boiling point of water. Instead of being “hot water,” he wants his team to boil and run the “locomotive” this season.

Isaac Shelby, Clarksville:

Shelby’s main talking point was less about football than it was the future of his players.

He noted that whenever he asks his players what they wanted to do when they graduate, they would always reply with ‘being in the NFL’ which, unfortunately, is not realistic for most high school football players. As a remedy, Shelby went in-depth about what he calls the best thing he has done as a coach: Career Tuesdays.

Every Tuesday since January, the team meets to listen to a professional from any field talk to the team about what they do and how they can get involved. The tradition has a hit among the players. Shelby noted that the practice has helped clear the minds of the players, taking life after high school off their mind and reducing stress to help them focus on football.

John Crosby, Clarksville Academy:

Despite being a first-year coach, John Crosby has a clear idea of how his team will look this season.

That’s because he served as the defensive coordinator for two seasons at CA. He has confidence in his three-tackle technique, even if he had to move his starting tight end to fill a void (spoiler alert: he did!) 

Offensively, he plans on being a triple-option-oriented team. His explanation for why they will be running this style was simple.

“As a defensive guy, I never wanted to see option football,” he said “The best teams I've coached against were option teams.”

Neil Furnish, Clarksville Northwest:

Furnish, also a new head coach, discussed his coaching ideologies rather than specific strategies.

After providing his reasoning for moving from Kentucky to Tennessee to take the Northwest job over potential offers from other schools, he went in-depth about how he hopes all 70 of his players feel like family and love each other like brothers.

His main talking point from the off-season regarded bringing his 38 of his players to camp at Kentucky Wesleyan College. He took their phones away and woke them up at 5 a.m. every morning, yet most players regard the trip as one of their favorite memories.

Above all else, Furnish said he wants his players to keep one another accountable for their actions and stay disciplined at all times.

Les Greer, Kenwood:

Greer, who previously as a defensive coordinator at Knoxville Catholic, will be the head coach and offensive coordinator for a Kenwood team that only has 10 seniors.  

They plan on running a fast-paced, no-huddle offense with plenty of option and run-pass option. 

On defense, Greer said he plans on going with a 3-4 front that features plenty of zone blitzes. The common theme of both units will be playing aggressive and attacking the opponent.

Greer said he wants his players to develop the tools to be able to deal with adversity whether they need them now, later in life or never at all.

James Figueroa, West Creek:

Football was hardly the main concern for the veteran coach’s talk on Wednesday. Figueroa noted that he does not care about wins, losses or rings (outside of his wedding ring, of course.) 

Instead, Figueroa opted to discuss family and grades as the focal points for his 2019 team.

“This is a special team I love being around,” Figueroa said. “I had 17 seniors over at my house the other day and my wife just loves them too. Some of my players don’t have dads. 

“They come from single parent homes, they have moms. As coaches, we’re their father figures. We invite them over to our house, cook for them, spend time with them and do some things outside of football, and that’s what I love about our players.”

From there, he said that his goal for this season is to get his entire team on the honor roll because with grades come college, and he knows that grades are something he cannot take away from his players. 

Brandon Clark, Clarksville Northeast:

Clark emphasized a few major points that have become prevalent in the locker room: grades and leadership.

He spoke from experience about having a player lose a Division I football scholarship due to poor grades. Like other coaches, he is keen on getting his players to perform well in the classroom, even getting them to take a “homework pact” to make sure they turn in all of their homework this year. 

Clark has taken an alternate philosophy with leadership. He is showing his team how to lead by sweeping the locker room as a form of servant leadership. 

“If you can’t sweep the locker room floor, you can’t do a lot of things,” he said.

On the field, he admits that the team will be inexperienced this year, as each side of the ball will return just two starters each. The Eagles will rely on a spread offense -- something that is new to the school but fits their talent -- and a 4-4 defense. 

Todd Hood, Rossview:

Now in his third season, Hood faces a defining year for his football team after two vastly different campaigns. 

In year one, he noted that the team had plenty of talent. but he had to kick seven players off the team for character issues. Last season, nobody had to be kicked off, but there was not as much talent.

Then comes this year, where there are only 10 seniors, none of which have much varsity playing time under their belts. Hood decided not go into detail about how their offense and defense will run to keep opposing coaches in the dark, but he did emphasize that their main focus has been to excel at both blocking and tackling

The Eagles will be tested early, meaning Hood’s motto will be as relevant as ever: “Face everything, fear nothing.”

Recommended for you