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Mon, Sep 22, 2014

Winning high school, middle programs come in cycles

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These things always run in cycles. I hear that all the time in regard to teams that win or lose a great deal.

To me a cycle is shorter than a dynasty but longer than a great season or two.

Over the years we've had at least three cycles in elementary basketball. A lot of schools won championships from the 40s until the league was gobbled up by middle schools, but no one did better than the Kittrell girls and coach Johnny Jones, who won the county title many times.

In boys, coach Robert Owen built Walter Hill into a power, and it was maintained by the late Tommy Brown and Jon Dinkins. The cycle was a lot shorter, but coach Ken Nolan’s McFadden girls did the same thing.

I’m not certain we’ve ever had a dynasty, but if we have it would have to be the Central High Tigers and Oakland boys basketball, along with Riverdale girls basketball. And you would have to give a nod to Riverdale football. If they weren’t dynasties, they were surely long cycles of success.

Oakland boys coach Dickie Thomas and coach Randy King and his staff had the longest most successful cycle in Rutherford County Sports history. The many seasons of 20-plus wins and some with 30 may never be topped.

Oakland football has won three championships and has made five championship appearances ,but it wasn’t a cycle. Riverdale’s football cycle stretched from 1991 until just a couple of seasons ago. The cycle featured unbeaten seasons, five state championships and nine state championship game appearances under coach Gary Rankin. The Warriors also made two more final four appearances.

The cycle was short, but noteworthy, as Smyrna football had three championship appearances and two titles in just four years.

Riverdale girls basketball teams were in five championship games since 2007, and won four of them came under four different coaches. As a matter of fact, Riverdale has been to six state tournaments and has never failed to play in the final game. They are 16–2 in state tournament play.

Before you email me, I am aware that there have been other excellent cycles in other sports. Eagleville volleyball and Smyrna bowling come to mind, along with soccer, golf and tennis at various schools.

I haven’t mentioned Oakland and Riverdale baseball and softball. We’ve had some long successful cycles in middle school as well. Central Middle’s girls and boys basketball were certainly one, along with football from both Central and Smyrna Middle. I’m certain I’ve left out someone, somewhere.

Cycles always end – always. That’s why they call them cycles. Maryville football will not win forever and neither will Alcoa. Riverdale didn’t, Gallatin, Lincoln County, Brentwood Academy, MBA and Trousdale County didn’t either.

No one will. It appears some local cycles have ended in the last few months or so, but you never know what the future holds.

It’s good to know that there are always new cycles forming. It appears that Blackman, Siegel and Oakland football are, perhaps, near the beginning of impressive runs.

Blackman is having some recent great success in girls and boys basketball, as is Central Magnets girls basketball and coach Steve Willey, along with Brad Decker of Oakland Middle boys basketball. Siegel boys basketball, under coaches Chris Harris and Ben Dotson, are deep into a successful cycle that shows no sign of ending.

I saved a special paragraph for Oakland girls coach Jennifer Grandstaff and assistant coach Missy Blizzard. They had a terrific cycle just a few short years ago and then the talent level dipped, but to their everlasting credit, they hung in there. The cycle has smiled on them again as the Lady Patriots have won 75 games in the last three years.

Here’s wishing you and your team a long period of success; just remember, these things run in cycles.

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cycles, high school, jeff jordan, sports
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