By SAM McGAW | Photos by ANDY COLLIGNON
Between basketball and football, Brentwood Academy senior quarterback Gavin Schoenwald won five state championships in his first three years of high school. However, the only title that matters to him is the next one.
In two weeks, the Vanderbilt commit will get the chance to add another state championship three-peat to his resume. On Friday, the Eagles (11-0) secured a trip to the Division II-AAA state championship with a 28-6 win against McCallie (9-4) at home.
“(Returning to the state championship) brings back memories, and I’m ready to make another one,” Schoenwald said. “We have a really experienced group. This will be the seniors’ third trip there. We have to hold it down.”
BA will battle Montgomery Bell Academy in the title game at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville on Dec. 2. The Eagles won the last two Division II-AA championships against the Big Red.
“All that matters to these seniors is this championship,” BA head coach Cody White said. “Of course, they’ve been a part of the last two. Right now, we’re in the moment of this one. These guys are playing for each other and playing for this season. They’ve been there before, and they understand what it takes.”
Schoenwald completed 11 of 13 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns against McCallie. He exited the game in the third frame after separating his left, non-throwing shoulder. He returned late in the fourth quarter to run one final play on his home field.
“Before the game, I sat up in the stands and looked out in the field and saw us running 100-yard sprints in August,” Schoenwald said. “I’m not going to let a dislocated shoulder keep me out of my last game on this field.
Schoenwald said he’ll play in the title game.
Both of his touchdown passes went to wide receiver Mike Archie. The first was a 10-yard score on a hitch route to take a 7-6 lead with 4:30 left in the second quarter. Their second connection was 34-yard strike on a deep pass into the right corner of the end zone on fourth-and-12 just before halftime.
“I call that kind of gutsy,” Schoenwald said about the decision to go for it on fourth down. “We came back to the sideline on the possession before and saw that Archie could beat him deep. I didn’t think we’d call it on fourth-and-12, but I put it in the right spot and he made a heck of a catch.”
Running back Tahir Annoor found the end zone on a 12-yard run late in the third quarter for a 21-6 lead. Running back Tomario Pleasant put the final stamp on the game with a 2-yard plunge with two minutes remaining in the game.
The Eagles’ defense held McCallie to 224 total yards. The Blue Tornado averaged 40.7 points per game this season.
“That’s a really good offense,” BA head coach Cody White said. To hold them to six points is a pretty big deal.
“This is the best defense we’ve had since I’ve been here, and we’ve had some good ones.”