MURFREESBORO – It was a day full of celebration for Ensworth — again.
As several of the Tigers players posed together for pictures in suits and ties around Mr. Football finalists Keenen Crenshaw and Corn Elder after the Tennessee Titans awards luncheon Monday afternoon, all were having a good time.
For the second straight year, Ensworth had two of the finalists in DII-AA division — after Orleans Darkwa (back) and Sam Cooper (lineman) were so honored last year.
The difference, they hope, would be that this will be the year the school will bring home its first football state championship when the Tigers meet Chattanooga Baylor in the finals Thursday night in Cookeville.
It the Tigers’ first finals trip after three straight quarterfinal defeats (2007-09).
“It was so disappointing not win it my sophomore and junior years, particularly last year when I thought we had the best team,” the giant 6-foot-2, 295-pound Crenshaw, a lineman finalist, said. “We also had two Mr. Football finalists last year. But, we might have been a little too lackadaisical in our approach, maybe took things for granted.”
“We’ve overcome a lot of adversity, and we’ve stayed together,’’ Elder, a Mr. Football (back) finalist as a sophomore, said. “And we’re facing Baylor, a great team, with great players. They present a huge challenge.”
That includes Baylor star quarterback Jacob Huesman, who was winner of the DII-AA back award.
Crenshaw had 29 tackles, one blocked punt and 21 pancake blocks. Elder has 1,700 yards rushing, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions on defense, one coming on the game’s final play to save a 21-14 victory in the first of two meetings with Brentwood Academy this season.
“It’s an exciting day, and I’m happy for all the finalists from all the schools,” Ensworth coach Ricky Bowers said. “There’s great energy here, and an experience for these guys to remember for a lifetime.”
Even though neither Ensworth player won the award, both expressed how honored they were to be finalists. Ensworth has had one Mr. Football winner, Tavarres Jefferson in 2008.
For the first time since 2005, Nashville and Davidson County had no Mr. Football winners. Only one Middle Tennessee player won the award Monday, Wayne County’s Tyler Rice (back) in Class A.
Brentwood Academy’s Woody Baron also was a lineman finalist in DII-AA. He graded out 85 percent in the offensive line and had five pancake blocks.
Like in his sophomore year (his junior year he was injured), Davidson Academy tailback Justin Williams was a DII-A finalist as a back. He rushed for 1,471 yards and 16 touchdowns for the Bears, who lost to undefeated St. George’s 7-0 in the playoff semifinals.
Although the Ensworth duo did not take home any trophies Monday, they hope to lift — along with the rest of their teammates — a different one Thursday.
“We are working harder toward our goal this year,” Crenshaw said. “I think that will be the difference.”