Football trends up at Gleason
Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2012 12:00 pm
By RANDY CAVIN
High school sports in small towns are exciting when you have some winning programs, and Gleason is no exception with the improvement of the football team in 2011.
Under the leadership of head coach Noah Lampkins, the Bulldogs continued to be a contender for the District 13A title in 2011. Since 2007 the Bulldogs have gone 23-21, including 5-5 in 2011 with the first home playoff win in the school’s history by beating South Fulton 19-12.
“Coach Lampkins would probably tell you that the regular season record should have been a little better, but we competed well with everyone and were in ballgames late with opportunities to win,” athletic director Lee Lawrence said. “The team and coaches have worked hard to get to this point and establish an expectation based on personal commitment.
“It was great to host a home playoff game this year and to see the community support into the second round.”
It is the personal commitment that has transformed the Bulldogs into a winning team. Lawrence says the commitment to the offseason program has been the biggest factor in the recent success of the football team. He expects the 2012 season to be another great experience for the team as they gear up for another push in the district.
When people think about the town of Gleason, it is not football that comes to mind at first — it is girls’ basketball. The Lady Bulldogs have been a powerhouse in not only West Tennessee, but in the entire state. The Lady Bulldogs have won three state titles since the 1991-92 season with the last one coming in 2006.
The team saw a drop-off in wins during the 2010-11 season from the previous season when they went 22-7. But, the team still made it to the Region 7A quarterfinals behind the coaching of Joel Ayers. The young team finished with a 17-13 record.
“The Lady Bulldogs lost several girls with key playing time experience from the previous season (Camille Cooper, Sara Hensley, Ashley Coble), resulting in some girls being thrown into a mix they had not experienced before in a live game situation,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence says even with a young team, it still performed well and improved as the season progressed and the valuable lessons learned will only help next season.
The Lady Dawgs had just one senior (Alex King) last season, and Lawrence expects last year’s class of juniors to be exceptional on the court this season as they will had have to step into the leadership role.
“Briana Jones, Calay Smith and Jaclyn Mont-gomery will be called upon to carry a big load, much like the three girls who graduated at the end of the 2010-2011 season,” he said. “Freshman Emily Bell will also step in and play a key role in success with her playing experience as an eighth-grader and continued work ethic. We will not be deep, but have to rely on being scrappy and fundamental in all phases of the game to be successful. Coach Ayers focuses on the little things day by day and will get the most potential out of each girl.”
The boys’ basketball team was the youngest in the county, and the youthful team struggled to get in the win column last season. But, if the team was to be graded on effort, it would certainly get an A. Lawrence says the boys’ program often struggles to find consistency from season to season, but the effort is always there as it was last season.
“One thing we have preached to the boys’ program for years now is that in order to have a successful regular season, you are going to have to put in the hours in the gym during the offseason,” he said. “This year coach Roney stepped into a difficult situation, but continued to instill the same principles of work ethic and attitude toward success that is needed in this program. We will have a core group this season that had much success a few years ago in junior high ball, so I am anxious to see if they can put it all together now that they have some experience under their belt.”
The baseball program, with head coach Jason Stephens at the helm, finished second in District 13A and was in almost every game to the last pitch. That is a testament to the hard work the players put in day in and day. Led by Bethel signee, Thomas Fowler, the Bulldogs were one of the top teams in the area and proved that they could play with the best teams in northwest Tennessee.
“Obviously finishing the regular season second in the district was outstanding,” Lawrence said. “It is a credit to the work coach Stephens has put in during his time as head coach. Coach Stephens has a way of relating to players that really works well in baseball.”
One sad part on the baseball team was the retirement of assistant coach Mike Bennett at the end of the season. Lawrence says his guidance to both the other coaches and players will be hard if not impossible to replace.
“We will have a big void to fill with coach Bennett stepping away from the baseball diamond,” he said. “His influence has been tremendous for coach Stephens and the young men he has worked with over the years.”
The softball team had some adversity they had to overcome with the passing away of one of their mentors last year. Assistant head coach Kristie Arnold was going to be the new head coach of the Lady Bulldogs for this past season after Coach Ayers stepped down to focus on basketball, but she passed away last June and left a void to be filled.
“Coach Jacob Canaday and the softball team faced a struggle from the beginning this season with coach Ayers stepping away to focus on basketball and assistant coach Kristie Arnold was set to take the reins and had begun focusing on some offseason opportunities when she tragically passed away last June,” Lawrence said. “The girls were slow out of the gate, but made progress and strides throughout the season”
“This team was characterized by lots of youth with only two seniors (pitcher/infield Haley Collins, catcher Sarah Passeri) and will be much improved in 2012 because of the struggles they overcame this season.
“I would like to thank our fans and community for supporting our athletic programs in the great times as well as the down times. We try hard each year to add a few strategies that will benefit our student-athletes and coaching staffs to hopefully add success with each passing year. People in Gleason are very passionate about their sports. It is always our hope that this passion will be a positive influence for our kids so that they can carry their experiences to other endeavors in life.” Published in The WCP 6.14.12