For a change, Cody Nelson would like to see some gold at the end of the rainbow this season instead of silver. But he's running out of time.
Nelson has been the starting quarterback at Brentwood Academy since his sophomore year. The past two seasons, he has helped guide the Eagles to the Division II state finals only to see them turned away with the finish line in sight. BA won the title in 2006.
“I want to be celebrating with that big gold ball (championship trophy) this year,'' said the 6-1, 180-pound Nelson, a two-year standout quarterback for the Eagles, who lost to MBA ('07), then MUS ('08) in the past two Blue Cross finals at MTSU.
“Whatever it takes this year is what I want to do. If we all stay focused and on the same page, we can reach our goals,” said Nelson. “For sure, as a senior, there's more a sense of urgency than before.”
Asked what he brought to the table for BA, Nelson said, “I think some leadership and doing what I need to do. If the coaches need something in the passing game, that's what I'll do. If we need to run, I'll do that, too.''
Nelson is in a hot preseason battle to keep his position, competing with rangy 6-4 junior Matthew Hamby for the job.
The passing game is solid with receivers like seniors Weldon Garlington, Lucas Brooks and Jay Luna, along with wide-out Joshua Pleasant, who has been converted to running back.
“We have a lot of really big playmakers, and I have confidence in those guys,” Nelson said. “Any of them can break a big play.''
Nelson passed for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns with just four interceptions his sophomore year. Last year, with star RB Chris Jordan injured much of the year, the production fell somewhat, as Nelson passed for 1,000 yards, seven TD and seven picks. Garlington was the second-leading receiver behind Pleasant.
“We've all got to step up, especially the seniors,'' said the speedy 5-9, 140-pound Garlington, one of the team's top returning receivers. “Cody and I have been playing together since eighth grade, and we've been on the same page for five years.''
Nelson and Garlington are two of 16 seniors for the Eagles.
“As a senior, I'm going to try to provide as much leadership as I can and be very motivational to guys on the sidelines,'' Garlington said. “I can't wait to get started. I feel like if everyone plays as well as they can, the championship will be ours. But we have a lot of work to do.''
“We have a lot of experience at the quarterback position,'' said Coach Ralph Potter, who is starting his third season at BA. “We're solid with both Cody and Matthew who are battling for the starting job. We have some graduation holes to fill, but we have a good mixture of backs and receivers.''
The Eagles open their season Aug. 28 against Southwind, a new Memphis area school.
“After that game, we've got a tough one with Ryan, then six of our last seven games are against teams in our region - and they're all tough,'' Nelson said.
He said he definitely wants to continue football - “possibly at a lower level DI school or maybe Ivy League,'' he said.
Asked who his favorite football player was, Nelson said, “Steve McNair. Like so many fans, I was deeply saddened by his death. I loved his leadership and the way he carried himself on the field.''
Nelson hopes to provide some of those characteristics as a senior. Especially if it leads to some gold hardware.