To say the 2019 season for Fayetteville High School’s Tiger football team was a roller coaster ride is an understatement.
With a new coaching staff in place, led by Coach Kenny Morson, Fayetteville turned a previous 1-9 season into 10-0 gold.
The team experienced the highs of winning the program’s first-ever region 5-A championship with a 28-14 win over Cornersville, only to feel the heartache of the loss of a brother and teammate, Tate Tuten, less than 24 hours later.
But, the burdens the Tigers and community would have to endure were far from over. The “witch hunt” to take down FHS began as the season opened with the question of a legitimate move of a student-athlete transfer. After concerns expressed by the Tennessee Secondary School’s Athletic Association (TSSAA) were satisfied, the Tigers were given the “all clear” by TSSAA Director Bernard Childress. FHS went into the season in good faith and started their run.
However, within weeks, the question of busing became the next issue for the Tigers. Although the Lincoln County School System and Fayetteville City have agreements in place stating students can attend the system of their choice, the TSSAA has their own interpretation of the student-athlete transfer rule. The student-athlete must move into the school’s busing zone, an issue that eventually stripped the Tigers of their region championship and playoff eligibility.
FHS outscored their opponents, 327-124, in their 10 games they were allowed to participate in, leaving no doubt who put the strongest team on the field in the region. But, when the judge, jury and executioner were done, the Tigers were allowed to finish their season with a 4-10 record, forfeiting 6 wins while never knowing their accuser.
“I just want to say how proud I am of these young men,” Coach Morson said. “They have faced so much adversity through the past weeks. It’s amazing how much strength they exhibited during this year. To accomplish a 10-0 season under so much pressure speaks highly of the character and commitment of these players.
“Myself and coaching staff very much appreciate the support from the community and administration throughout the season.
“We look forward to future growth and the development of this program,” he added. “We enter this off season with a new direction but with the same goal, ‘State for Tate’.”
Tigers by the numbers this season
Total Yards: FHS, 3,317; Opponents, 2,072.
Passing Yards: FHS, 1,431; Opponents, 956.
Passing Yards Per Game: FHS, 143.1; Opponents, 95.60.
Pass Completion/Attempts: FHS, 95 of 154; Opponents, 67 of 151.
Pass Completion Percentage: FHS, 60.39; Opponents, 44.37.
Passing TDs: FHS, 15; Opponents, 5.
Rushing Yards: FHS, 1,886; Opponents, 1,116.
Rushing Yards Per Game: FHS, 188.6; Opponents, 111.60.
Rushing Average: FHS, 6.03; Opponents, 3.37.
Rushing TDs: FHS, 29; Opponents, 12.
First Downs: FHS, 149; Opponents, 107.
Turnovers: FHS, 15; Opponents, 25.
Sacks: FHS, 20; Opponents, 15.
Standout Individual Stats
Passing: Jacious Clark played in 9 games, completed 45 of 70 attempts for 752 yards with 8 touchdowns and 1 interception. Jacob Medlen played in 6 games, completed 39 of 72 attempts for 570 yards, 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
Receiving: Jacious Clark, 18 for 316 yards, 5 TDs; Levi Sloan, 12 for 275 yards, 1 TD; Zayshon Pullen, 13 for 238 yards, 3 TDs; Guy Vanhooser, 14 for 153 yards, 1 TD; Tate Tuten, 11 for 148 yards, 2 TDs.
Rushing: Romello Twitty, 83 for 755 yards, 4 TDs: Jacious Clark, 57 for 439 yards, 10 TDs; Graham Pace, 54 for 345 yards, 4 TDs; Isaac Pace, 17 for 206 yards, 6 TDs; Kai McMullen, 10 for 113 yards, 1 TD.
Tackles: Jaden Hadley, 67 tackles, 47 solo, 8 sacks, 15 TFL; Graham Pace, 50 tackles, 33 solos, 2 sacks, 4 TFL, 1 INT; Kevonte Thomison, 48 tackles, 34 solo, 3 sacks, 13 TFL; Carter Hill, 40 tackles, 25 solo, 1 TFL, 2 INTs; Shavion Edmiston, 38 tackles, 29 solo, 8 TFL; Isaac Pace, 36 tackles, 30 solo, 2 sacks, 4 TFL, 1 INT; Kai McMullen, 29 tackles, 23 solo; Antonio Ibarra, 27 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 TFL; Jay Buchanan, 27 tackles, 19 solo, 3 sacks, 6 TFL; Zayshon Pullen, 24 tackles, 20 solo, 5 INTs.
Kicking: Eli Young, 2 of 4 field goals, with a long of 27 yards, and 27 of 31 on PATs.
Punting: Jacious Clark, 9 punts, 31.89 average, with a long of 42 yards; Levi Sloan, 7 punts, 32.86 average, with a long of 44 yards.