Meeting on the football field again tonight won’t be anything new for Ralph Thompson and Mose Phillips.
The two coaches have met each other off and on for the past two decades on different teams from junior pro through college. Both share a mutual respect for each other.
Thompson’s Maplewood team meets first-year coach Phillips’ Hillwood team tonight as the 39th annual Metro Jamboree kicks off at 7 p.m. at Maplewood.
Whites Creek meets Antioch in the opening two quarters, followed by the host Panthers against Hillwood. Action continues Friday night at McGavock, then Saturday night at Hunters Lane. The season starts for several teams on Aug. 24 in week 0.
“Mose and I go way back,’’ Thompson said earlier this week. “We played junior pro ball against each other when I was at Hartman Park and he was at Southwest Nashville.
“He later went on to play at Hillsboro and I played at Hillwood,’’ Thompson said, “then in college he played at Tennessee (running back) and I was at Georgia (defensive back).
“We’ve stayed in touch with each other through the years, bouncing things and situations off each other, just talking football. I spoke to him just this week, setting up a little of the format of what we were going to do in the jamboree.’’
“When Ralph went to Georgia, they were letting more freshmen play there then than at UT, so he got in faster than I did,’’ said Phillips, who went to Stokes Elementary. “Just remind Ralph that UT was victorious when we played Georgia,’’ Phillips said, laughing.
Thompson is trying to keep his up-and-coming program still coming. Phillips is trying to revive a program that was 0-10 last year.
One of Maplewood’s first priorities replacing rushing star Terrence Holt, now at Austin Peay. The Panthers may have found another star in 5-10, 185-pound junior Markus Cantrell.
Thompson said Cantrell has run very well in practice as he tries to replace Holt, who is Maplewood’s all-time No. 2 career rusher behind only Preston Brown.
“Markus doesn’t have quite the breakaway speed off Terrence, but he’s an effective runner and gets some tough yards,’’ Thompson added.
The Panthers’ Chris Simpson is one of the top returning quarterbacks in Nashville.
Phillips is counting on junior QB Ricky Bedell and versatile receiver Wesley Jackson to improve an offense which was shut out in seven of the 10 Hillwood games last year.
“I’ve had a couple of parents tell me that I remind them of ‘old school’ type of coaches who try to teach discipline and do things the right way,’’ Phillips said. “That’s what we’re trying to do.
“If I had half the talent Ralph does at Maplewood, we’d be well on our way,’’ Phillips added, with a laugh.