Sporting a new coach and a sophomore quarterback, Davidson Academy hopes to raise some eyebrows in the upcoming football season.
Paul Townsend, 43, who has bounced around the Nashville are area for the past few years, appears settled in at his new home as boss of the Bears.
He was bought in as defensive coordinator in June. But when Bill Alexander resigned, he was named interim coach – a title he hled briefly – July 15.
“When [headmaster] Bill Chaney and [athletic director] Kevin Harper brought me in, they appointed me interim coach just after Coach A left,” Townsend said. “Within 24 hours, Bill took the ‘interim’ tag off and appointed me head coach. I think that was good, just from a standpoint of solidifying everything in the transition.”
Adding to the continuity, Townsend kept Alexander’s staff of Jordan Laxton (linebackers, running backs), Tyler Hood (offensive/defensive line) and Mac Swann (defensive backs, wide receivers) intact.
“I like how our players have responded, everyone has come in with a great deal of enthusiasm,” Townsend said. “They have been great so far.”
DA must replace eight starters on offense and defense. The Bears have but 31 players out, “with the possibility of a couple more coming in later,” he added
Townsend served as an assistant under Dennis Goodwin at Donelson Christian Academy for five years, four years as head coach at Mt. Juliet Christian and two as wide receivers coach at Wilson Central. He had one more season as a DCA assistant before he landed the DA job, replacing Alexander who left to become an assistant at Beech High.
He hopes to restore the tradition of the Bears, who won state titles in 2005, ’06 and ’08. They finished 4-7 last year, including a first round playoff loss.
It won’t be easy.
“BGA and Friendship are both coming in [to DII-A] this year, and they have loads of tradition. That’ll a tough row to hoe,” Townsend said.
DA will get a better idea of how it stacks up in the Aug. 23 opener against Ezell-Harding.
That’s when Kyle Gilbert, a sophomore, makes his debut. He’s already had flashes of brilliance.
“The other day in a scrimmage, he hit 14-of-20 passes and three TDs – and that came after he was 0-for-4 early,” Townsend said.
One of Gilbert’s top targets figures to be Andrew Swann, a lanky 5-foot-11 wide receiver.
“With [Gilbert] being just a sophomore, I had my doubts,” Swann said. “But he has come in strong, he is a great passer and I’m looking forward to working with him.
“As for our team, I think the perception is we won’t be very good, but we are going to shock some people.”
Linebacker/fullback Tim Hartman and running back/strong safety Carlos Reyes also will add senior leadership.
“I was a little disappointed in how quickly [the coaching change] all went down, and I felt bad about ‘Coach A’ leaving,” Reyes said. “But we’re a very resilient team and we are rallying around coach Townsend.”
• Reigning state champion Ensworth will take on Columbia Central, 6 p.m. Friday at Vanderbilt Stadium, in one of the more attractive pre-season scrimmages.
• Recent Brentwood Academy graduate Jalen Ramsey appeared in the Sports Illustrated “Faces in the Crowd’’ section earlier this month after the Florida State football signee broke the state long jump record by almost seven inches, leading the Eagles to the DII state track title.
• Tracee Wells has been named Antioch girls head basketball coach after the resignation of Mary Beth White.
• Ensworth, Beech and White Station, all 2012 state champions, are competing in the fourth annual ESPN High School Kickoff the weekend of Aug. 23-25.
Ensworth, which finished No. 14 in the final USA Today prep rankings last year, plays at Trinity (Ky.), 7 p.m. Aug. 23. White Station plays at South Panola (Miss.), Aug 23, and Beech plays at Station Camp, Aug. 25.
45th annual Metro Jamboree
(Two quarters each)
(at Pearl-Cohn High, 7 p.m.)
Hunters Lane vs. Hillwood
Hillwood vs. Pearl-Cohn
Pearl-Cohn vs. Hunters Lane
(at Overton High, 6 p.m.)
Overton vs. Maplewood
Maplewood vs. Hillsboro
Overton vs. Hillsboro
Stratford vs. Glencliff
(at McGavock High, 6 p.m.)
McGavock vs. Donelson Christian Academy
Cane Ridge vs. East Nashville
Whites Creek vs. Antioch