by Michelle Clark
For the second time, the Great American Rivalry Series and U.S. Marine Corps came out to feature the traditional Tennessee turf war between the Montgomery Bell Academy Big Red and Brentwood Academy Eagles. Last year the Big Red claimed their third consecutive victory and first Great American Rivalry Series Championship Trophy with a 13-7 win, increasing their lead in the all-time series record to 13-6.
This year both teams entered the rivalry on a somewhat level playing field with three regular season losses, but the Eagles seemed ready for revenge against their rival “Mama’s Boy Academy.” BA Athletic Director Phillip Montgomery shows off a trophy case overflowing with state championship awards but missing is a Rivalry Series Championship Trophy, which he assured they would make room for.
Before kickoff, both teams recognized their top student-athlete – seniors Kirk Gerrald from Brentwood Academy and Fitz Lassing from MBA – during a midfield presentation. The opposing players shook hands in good sportsmanship, but that was the last friendly gesture between rival players until the game clock ran out.
The battle on the gridiron came to sudden life in the second quarter, when the Brentwood Academy Eagles scored three touchdowns in less than five minutes. Running back Victor Caro got the Eagles on the scoreboard with a one-yard run. MBA immediately evened the score on their next possession with a 36-yard touchdown run by student-athlete Fitz Lassing. For a moment it appeared as if the game might be a back and forth tug-of-war, but that was the last time the Big Red scored.
Quarterback Cody Nelson came back and completed a 73-yard touchdown pass to teamate Weldon Garlington. The Big Red tried to make a come back but ended up fumbling the ball, giving rival “Brentwood Sports Academy” the chance to capitalize and score another touchdown. By the end of the second quarter, the Eagles were up 20-7.
As the teams ran off the field to the locker rooms, old memories of the rivalry were revived while the Marine Corps honored two former players, inducting them into the Great American Rivalry Series Hall of Fame. SSgt. James Hill presented a trophy to ’07 BA graduate Bill Kottas, who led his team to a 42-7 win over MBA in 2006. Sgt. Andy Hurt recognized MBA alumnus Ingle Martin, former star quarterback who had a 4-1 record against BA and led his team to three consecutive state titles.
In the second half, the Brentwood Academy Eagles secured a well-earned victory in the fourth quarter with one final touchdown, making the score 26-7. Quarterback Cody Nelson, who led his offense throughout the night throwing for 117 yards, passed the 1,000 yards passing mark for the season and was aptly named the game’s Great American Rivalry Series MVP.
During a public post-game ceremony at midfield, with players taking a knee and fans watching from the stands, the game announcer revealed Nelson as the Most Valuable Player and declared the Eagles the victors of the night. SSgt. James Hill awarded an elated Nelson with a trophy and medal and Major Banning then presented the coveted Great American Rivalry Series Championship Trophy to Head Coach Ralph Potter.
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- Brentwood Academy vs. Montgomery Bell – 2009