Nashville Christian relies on Booker to help book a playoff spot

Friday, October 12, 2012 at 1:09am

With Phillip Booker, Nashville Christian School has someone who can score touchdowns in a number of ways.

The lightning-fast senior running back has helped lead the Eagles to a 5-2 record and an all-but-certain third straight Class A football playoff berth with three games to go.

Booker has rushed for 824 yards in 95 carries (an 8.67 average) and has scored 84 points on 14 touchdowns, an average of two per game. At cornerback, he is one of the teams’ leading tacklers.

“My goals are to rush for 1,000 yards and score 25 touchdowns,” he said. “So far, the line has been blocking great, and that’s been a big part of both my and the team’s success.”

Booker should reach one of his pre-season goals Friday when the Eagles host White House-Heritage (4-4) in a region game.

“He is simply dynamic running with the football,’’ third-year coach Jeff Brothers said. “He has scored touchdowns on an interception return as well as a punt and kickoff.

“He’s also someone we can use as a decoy, taking the pressure off our quarterback Ryan Young to open up the rest of our offense. He’s spent a great deal of time in the weight room, getting stronger.”

He’s also outstanding in track.

Last spring, Booker won the 110 meter hurdles in the Class A/AA state meet in Murfreesboro. His time of 14.65 seconds not only set a school record but was the fastest time in any classification at the state meet. He is also an excellent long jumper.

This fall, he has the Eagles on the right track. They average 32.4 points per game and have scored more than 40 points three times. The 6-foot, 165-pounder has accounted for more than a third of those points.

Following the White House-Heritage game, a visit to Houston County and a home game vs. powerhouse Jo Byrns loom. The Eagles are in a tie for third place with Houston County in District 10-A with 2-1 marks.

“We play Jo Byrns [in Week 10], and they always have a good team,” Booker said. “We should get an idea how well we stack up in that game. We just need to keep practicing hard and get better.”

As for college, Booker said some of the schools in which he’s interested include Samford, UT-Chattanooga, The Citadel, Austin Peay and Vanderbilt.

But first things first.

“We’re hoping to try to control the [White House-Heritage] quarterback, and they also have a quick, physical line,” Brothers said. “Stopping their run will be a big challenge for us.

“Taking care of the ball is very important, and we’re hoping our defense can give us a short field to work with, something they’ve done pretty well at lately.”

NCS has won four straight since a 29-14 loss to Clarksville Academy back on Aug. 31.

In this week’s TSSAA playoff standings, it stands at No. 12, good enough to qualify for one of the 24 Class A berths awarded following the regular season.

“We’re trying not to pay too much attention to that,” Brothers said. “If we keep getting the wins, the playoff situation will take care of itself.”

The Eagles are well positioned to do that, if Booker has anything to say about it.

Playoff Picture: David Lipscomb (Class 4A) and Pearl-Cohn (Class 3A) were ranked 33rd, the first teams out in their respective classes in this week’s TSSAA playoff standings. Lipscomb (3-4) hosts the Firebirds (3-5) Friday in a region match-up and each can enhance their resume with a win.

“I don’t understand much about [the format], except I know we need some wins,” Lipscomb coach Glenn McCadams said.

The top two teams in each district automatically qualify. P-C (3-1) and Lipscomb (2-1) are currently third and fourth, respectively, in District 10-AA.

• Christ Presbyterian Academy (8-0) became the first Nashville team (3A) to clinch a playoff berth with its win over Maplewood last week.

• Brentwood High (7-0) can clinch a Class 6A berth with a win at Hillsboro Friday, although for the last month, the high-scoring Bruins have been a virtual certainty.

• Hillwood (4-4) is No. 24 and Hillsboro (4-3) is No. 29 of 32 teams in the current 5A stndings. The Toppers and Burros probably need one or two more wins to clinch their first berths since 2004 (Hillwood) and 2009 (Hillsboro).

Friday’s games

Brentwood High at Hillsboro
Christ Presbyterian Academy at Whites Creek
Davidson Academy at Ezell-Harding
Donelson Christian Academy at Mt. Juliet Christian
East Nashville at Hunters Lane
Father Ryan at Brentwood Academy
Independence at Franklin
Maplewood at Stratford
McGavock at Glencliff
McCallie at Pope John Paul II
Overton at Antioch
Pearl-Cohn at Lipscomb Academy
Ravenwood at Centennial
Sycamore at Goodpasture
White House-Heritage at Nashville Christian School
Zion Christian at Franklin Road Academy