Arcentae Broome just shakes his head when he’s asked about the end to his team’s football season last November.
“It’s something that just sticks with you,” the Maplewood High coach said. “You think about that loss, and it riles you. It comes to mind so often during the entire year. Rarely a day went by without my having some thoughts of it.
“You want to get back and do something about it.”
He does not need to look back anymore. What lies ahead for his team is Saturday’s TSSAA Class 4A state championship contest against Greenville, which defeated Maplewood 17-7 in last year’s semifinal round.
Scheduled kickoff is 3:30 p.m. at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville.
“I think they got it right — the two best [4A] teams are playing in the finals,” Broome said.
Last year, considering Greeneville’s 60-12 slaughter of Trezevant in the finals, it appeared the two best teams met in the semis. Of Greeneville’s five playoff games in 2010 the closest — by far — was the one against Maplewood.
Maplewood (11-3) punched its ticket to the finals with an impressive 28-7 win over Covington last Friday at home. The Panthers outscored the Chargers 21-0 in the second half.
Greeneville (13-1) knocked out Giles County 42-21.
Greeneville, which is in the championship game for the third straight year, boasts two Mr. Football lineman finalists — Jamel Hall and Terrell Rollins. Maplewood has one — back Ladarius Vanlier.
“It should be a great game, and we’re really looking forward to it,” Broome said. “Our team has really upped its level of play, and our defense has reached another level.”
Vanlier hits 2,000 yards
Needing just 14 yards to hit the 2,000-yard rushing mark for the season, Vanlier reached the barrier with a bang.
Late in the first quarter, with his team trailing 7-0, the diminutive 5-foot-6, 160-pound tailback bolted around right end for a 50-yard touchdown, which tied it, 7-7. His 38-yard touchdown run in the third quarter gave Maplewood the lead for good, and his 51-yard bolt put Maplewood on easy street, 21-7.
He finished with 232 yards in 16 carries and three touchdowns.
“I just wanted to come out, do my best and take our team to the promised land,” Vanlier, who now has 2,208 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns for the season, said. “I give God the credit and am thankful for my offensive lineman who have been so great the entire season.
“We made some adjustments at halftime. We’re a second half team, and we came out and showed it.”
Quarterback Alvin Stokes threw only two passes, both on the Panthers’ first possession. He completed one to Randall Smith for 17 yards.
Other than that, he managed the game to virtual perfection. Maplewood had no turnovers.
“This is oh, so great [getting to finals]” Stokes said. “I’m really happy for all my teammates. Our whole team has really stepped it up in the playoffs.”
Defense shines again
Maplewood’s defense again came through with flying colors.
The unit has allowed just 26 points and has one shutout in four playoff games. The shutout was in a 31-0 quarterfinal win over White House, the first time the Blue Devils had been blanked in five years.
Junior defensive back Cortez Adams intercepted a pass and raced 46 yards in the fourth quarter, an icing touchdown on a big victory cake. It was Maplewood’s sixth pick in four playoff games.
“[Defensive backs] coach Brian Holt told us exactly what was coming,” Adams, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound junior, said. “He told us to be looking for the sideline route, and I was ready for it. Once I intercepted it, I just had open field ahead.
“Our defense has really done the job, teams have only scored one touchdown on us the past two games. [Defensive back] Kenny Robertson had two interceptions last week, and everyone has stepped it up.”
Besides Adams, fellow defensive back Navonte Parks had 11 tackles, linebacker Damario Lewis had two sacks and a forced fumble, linebacker Troy Fair had eight tackles and a fumble recovery and defensive Jamar Fletcher had a sack and five tackles.
It all added up to a trip to the finals.
• Mr. Football Awards: The TSSAA Mr. Football awards will be presented Monday, following an 11 a.m. luncheon at Embassy Suites Hotel in Murfreesboro.
Besides Vanlier in AA, other Nashville finalists include Corn Elder of Ensworth and C.J. Beathard of BGA (DII-AA back) and Woody Baron and Graham Shuler of Brentwood Academy (DII-AA line).
Mr. Football finalists Barrett Gouger, tackle of Baylor (DII-AA lineman), and Brian Kimbrough of Memphis East (AAA back) are Vanderbilt commitments.
• Hume Award finalists: The Metro School Board athletic office announced finalists for the William Hume Award.
They include DeMarco Moore (Antioch), Maurice Cooper (Hillsboro), Dustin Binkley (Maplewood), Caleb Azubike (McGavock) and Ikechi Amadi (Overton). The award goes to a Metro Schools football player who is outstanding on the field, excels in academics and involved in community work.
The winner will be announced following an 11:30 a.m. luncheon Friday at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel.
• Wright tournament champs: Mt. Juliet High swept both the boys and girls championships in the annual LeRoy Wright Thanksgiving Classic basketball tournament Saturday at Cane Ridge High.
Despite the absence of several football players who were competing in the playoffs, Mt. Juliet’s boys (3-2) beat McGavock 56-41 as DeShawn McMurray scored 12. Unbeaten Mt. Juliet (5-0) swamped host Cane Ridge 59-24 in the girls final as Jamesah Jackson scored 14.
• BA’s Shuler helps ‘Wounded Warrior’ project: Brentwood Academy’s Graham Shuler, who was recently selected to play in the U.S. Army prep All-American game Jan. 7, is part of the Wounded Warrior project.
Shuler will participate in a fund-raising dinner Dec. 7 where his group hopes to raise up to $20,000 toward a $100,000 project. He began working with Wounded Warriors last summer after campaigning for the charity to be the beneficiary of his school’s senior class project. He has met with some of its members and became moved by their stories.
• Vic Varallo passes away: Long-time East High track coach and teacher and later Metro Councilman Vic Varallo passed away last Friday at age 89. He guided East to state championships in 1959 and 1960 and was also a champion water skier.
Visitation is Monday, 4-8 p.m., then noon to 1:30 p.m., prior to funeral services at Spring Hill Funeral Home in Madison.
BlueCross Bowl Schedule
(at Tennessee Tech, Cookeville)
DII-A: University School of Jackson vs. St. George’s, 3:30 p.m.
DII-AA: Baylor vs. Ensworth, DII-AA, 7 p.m.
Class A: Wayne County vs. South Pittsburg, noon
Class 3A: Christian Academy of Knoxville vs. Milan, 3:30 p.m.
Class 5A: Powell vs. Henry County, 7 p.m.
Class 2A: Friendship Christian vs. Dresden, noon
Class 4A: Greeneville vs. Maplewood, 3:30 p.m.
Class 6A: Maryville vs. Whitehaven, 7 p.m.