MBA's defense already is very good, strives to get better

Sunday, September 5, 2010 at 9:23pm

There are a number of ways that Montgomery Bell Academy can win football games, but the 2010 version starts with defense.

A “bend but not break’’ philosophy is probably an injustice to the Big Red defensive crew which, through three games, doesn’t bend much to begin with. Handing the ball off to tailback Tyler Franks isn’t a bad idea, either.

Asking MBA to open a season with three straight shutouts for the first time since 1956 was probably too tall an order, considering the Big Red faced high-powered Ensworth last Friday. But a 21-14 road win nonetheless helped put the Big Red (3-0) in early control of the DII Middle/East race and gave them momentum for the rest of a September schedule which includes Independence on Friday, then DII foes Baylor and McCallie.

Three huge fumble recoveries, two of which directly set up touchdown and one of which came after Ensworth had driven to inside the MBA 10, helped save the day And after Ensworth drove to the 10 in the final minute, an all-out pass rush on quarterback Drew Parker forced a hurried pass into the end zone which was broken up.

Notably:

• Junior linebacker Kevin Murphy recovered a fumble at the Ensworth 17 early in the third quarter when he alertly pounced on a ball after a bad exchange. Franks scored four plays later.

• Senior defensive tackle Andrei Lucaci fell on the ball after a fumbled snap at the Ensworth 19 late in the third quarter. Franks scored his third touchdown of the game three plays later.

• Junior defensive back Jhamall Wright recovered a fumble at the MBA seven after a 10-yard gain by Quinn Hamilton. That kept the Tigers off the board late in the second quarter.

• Big Red senior defensive back Joe Riegle was all over the field with numerous tackles, one of which stopped a Tigers’ reverse for a 10-yard loss early on.

MBA’s 2010 defense won’t be compared to the Big Red’s 1925-27 unit of coach Kirk Kirkpatrick, which racked up 19 straight shutouts over two and half seasons. But as long as his players keep improving, coach Daniel McGugin will be content.

After announcing Saturday’s practice was canceled as an early Labor Day reward to the cheers of his team, McGugin’s said his focus remains the same.

“We don’t ever talk about shutouts,” he said. “We ask our players never to leave the field without making some improvement from the day before. I’ll have players tell me they didn’t make any improvement and stay over for more practice.”

The giant 6-foot-33, 285-pound Lucaci is one of the few MBA players to go both ways (right tackle/nose tackle), and his determination on defense paid off with the recovery.

“We disguised a base rush on that play, and instead we used a push play. They fell apart and had a bad snap as a result,” he said. “Our game plan was to just keep punching them in the mouth again and again. And give Tyler room to run the ball.”

For which Franks was most appreciative.

“The line did a great job, they had a great push up front and made it easy for me to find a crease,” said the hard-running 5-foot-8, 175-pound Franks. “They had those two huge linemen, and our guys controlled them all game.”

One of Ensworth’s touchdown came on a 55-yard fumble return by Quinn Hamilton.

That means the MBA defense has allowed just seven points in the first three games. That came when Corn Elder broke free for a 19-yard score in the fourth quarter.

Noting Brentwood Academy’s 45-7 romp at Father Ryan, it looks like MBA and the Eagles may be at the top of the class in DII.

They meet Oct. 22 at BA. BA has scored 148 points its first three games.

Wood takes posts at NCS: Former David Lipscomb assistant girls basketball coach Cooper Wood accepted two coaching positions at Nashville Christian School.

Wood, whose Lipscomb 7-8 grade girls team (20-1) won the Harpeth Valley Athletic Conference (HVAC) tournament championship in March, signed on for the NCS girls softball job as well as the boys and girls cross country teams. He will also be the assistant coach to his son Brandon Wood for the girls basketball team. Wood had been the assistant to Ernie Smith at Lipscomb the past four years.

Other notes: David Lipscomb and Goodpasture have moved their rivalry game up to 7 p.m., Sept. 23 at Goodpasture to be shown on as that day’s “Thursday Night Lights” television contest.

This Thursday, Oakland (3-0) visits Brentwood (2-1) in a top early-season game.

• McGavock quarterback Kody McKinley overcame a subpar opener in a shutout loss at Mt. Juliet with a sparkling 22-of-30, 325 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions as the Raiders rallied to beat Cane Ridge 42-39.

• Thomas Knobloch kicked the go-ahead field goal, then caught a 58-yard touchdown pass, his second scoring catch of the game, as Nashville Christian School beat Clarksville Academy 31-21. Taylor Hendricks blocked two punts.

One more region win by the Eagles will clinch their first playoff berth since 2000.

• East Lit and new coach Jim Wilson are 2-0 after a 34-21 win over host CPA (2-1) as the Eagles upset the Lions for the second straight year. East Lit won despite 303 passing yards by CPA senior quarterback Nolan Genovese, who has passed for almost 700 yards in three games.