BY CORY WOODROOF
Right as two-way footballer Tim Stayskal sacked Summit’s Destin Wade on a fourth-and-goal to send Nolensville to its third win, the crowd erupted as if it’d just won a state title.
Perhaps they knew, in that moment, something was different about their Knights.
The school has only fielded a football team for three seasons, the first a year of transition, the second a 4-8 run (which included two November playoff bouts). In 2018? They’ve already matched their entire previous fall regular win total.
And that’s two notched wins without starting QB and Murray State commit Brandon Wharton II, and a near-third if not for a late-game comeback for Page.
So, what’s working for these Knights?
Well, you have to first look at the staff’s ability to get reserve QB Ryder Galardi ready to nearly go 3-0 when Wharton goes down. He’s week-to-week with an injury, but with Nolensville’s stout offensive line and guys like Stayskal and Zach Campbell there to catch passes.
Oh, and don’t forget human touchdown machine Colton Dooley, who had his first game of the season without a touchdown Friday. It speaks volumes for the Knights that, even when the opponent slows a wrecking ball like Dooley, they find other ways to beat you, all without their future D-1 QB.
And, though the defense struggled to halt Page’s comeback in Week 3, they’ve held teams to 14 points in total in the last two weeks. Limiting that Summit attack to eight points in total is no small feat, particularly on the road. OLB C.J. Ware continues to figure out his potential; that’s why he just visited Vanderbilt this past weekend.
First-year head coach Paul Derrick is fielding not only the de-facto best Nolensville team so far, but one of the best overall teams in the county this fall. If Galardi can navigate them past Lawrence County on the road this weekend, perhaps they can get Wharton back for that big Brentwood home game on Sept. 21.
If they start topping Bruins, the Knights will only grow in county esteem.
Those 4-8 seasons might become a thing of the past pretty quickly for this young school.
We might be getting to know one of our new WillCo contenders.