Ralph Thompson couldn’t stay out of the coaching ranks for long.
Less than six months after he resigned as Maplewood High football coach, Thompson signed on as McMurray Middle School coach. McMurray is a feeder school to Overton.
“It’s a new challenge, and it’s a bit different from high school,” Thompson said Wednesday. “For me, it’s the right place at the right time.
“I think people saw me when I was at Maplewood as a savvy guy who was very interested in his players grade-wise, discipline-wise and who tried to do things the right way.”
Once a standout player at Hillwood, then at Georgia where he played defensive back, he
pulled Maplewood out of a 0-10 hole his first season. Eventually, the Panthers made consistent trips to the playoffs. Last fall, his last Maplewood team made the state Class 4A quarterfinals.
“I want to start fresh and build something special here,” he said. “I hope I can build up middle school football, not only at McMurray but in all of Nashville.
“Sometimes coaches in Nashville get a bad rap for not going the extra mile to make sure their players are noticed by colleges. I want to help change that perception. I want college coaches to get to know this kid or that kid and make sure he gets his due. And that starts at the middle school level. I want to make sure that player is ready for high school, not just mentally but in the classroom, too.”
Thompson said he was looking forward to meeting Overton coach Terry Anderson and the Bobcat staff. Middle school practice has not started yet.
• Heat still winning: The oppressive heat in recent days has forced most area schools to either cancel outdoor practices and move inside or start at 6 p.m. or after. Some of the scrimmages aren’t being started until 7 or 7:30 p.m.
• Metro Clinic: A clinic for Metro high school and middle school football coaches will be held Saturday at Tennessee State’s Kean Hall. Former TSU coach Joe Gilliam and current coach Rod Reed will be two of the instructors at the day-long event. For more information, call the Metro Schools athletic department, 259-8783.
• BGA announces Kickoff plans: Battle Ground Academy has announced its schedule for the weekend Aug. 19-21 of the Clinic Bowl Kickoff Classic when the Wildcats host city rival Franklin.
The Clinic Bowl community dinner will be held at Lipscomb Allen Arena 6 p.m., Aug. 19, with legendary and recently retired Florida State coach Bobby Bowden as guest speaker. Tickets may be purchased at vanderbiltorthopaedics.com/clinicbowl.
A kickoff dinner hosted by the Wildcat Club will be held 6 p.m., Aug. 20 at BGA, honoring the 1960 state championship team on its 50th anniversary of the 11-0 Clinic Bowl champs. The game will follow Aug. 21, with a 7 p.m. kickoff at BGA’s Guffee-Brown Stadium.
• Roberts gets final sendoff: Just after the memorial service for the late Nashville Banner sports copy editor Bill Roberts this past Tuesday had ended at Calvary United Methodist Church, the family made an unusual request.
In honor of Roberts’ strong interest in baseball and of his beloved Dodgers, everyone was asked to sing the Seventh Inning Stretch song. All accommodated, including singing the verse “Root, root, root for the Dodgers, if they don’t win, it’s a shame ….’’ Roberts would have been proud. The Dodgers beat league-leading San Diego that night, 2-1.
• Lipscomb’s Fuson signs with Murray: In a late summer decision, Lipscomb High all-district catcher Clay Fuson has decided to sign with Murray State. Fuson helped lead the Mustangs to a 31-11 record and the second round of the AA state tournament. He is the son of former Overton High star Greg Fuson.
• CPA 7-on-7 goes well: CPA athletic director Mike Ellson said the recent 7-on-7 passing game between the Lion players and their fathers “went extremely well, everyone had a blast. The dads even brought back Stephen Ross (an All-state player who went to Auburn a few years back) as a ringer. I think the sons still won, but it was a lot of fun.”