Blackman Football takes down Brentwood in season opener for 2021

Friday, August 20, 2021, was Week One of the high school football season in the state of Tennessee. 

For many teams, this season is a fresh start after last season was filled with protocols because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The same can be said for the Brentwood Bruins and the Blackman Blaze.  

Brentwood is coming off a 2020 season in which they reached the state championship game. As for Blackman, previous head coach Kit Hartsfield resigned at the end of the season to take the same position at Mount Pleasant High School. Blackman hired new head coach Chandler Tygard coming from North Jackson High School in Alabama to take over. 

The game got off to a nightmare start for the Blaze. Blackman fumbled the opening kickoff, forcing them to start their opening drive near the opposite goal line. On the first play from scrimmage, the Bruins got a safety, making the score 2-0 Brentwood just seconds into the game.  

The Blaze would answer back, taking advantage of recovering a Bruin fumble as they were driving to try to extend their lead. Junior wide receiver Justin Brown brought in a perfectly executed double pass to give the Blaze the 6-2 lead, which they would retain for the remainder of the first quarter.  

The second quarter was filled with action, including trading defensive stops on fourth down and also trading touchdowns. The score headed to halftime was Blackman 18 Brentwood 9. The Blaze had all the momentum heading to the locker room. 

Although Blackman had momentum, Brentwood received the opening kickoff to start the second half. They took advantage of it, scoring a touchdown about a minute and a half into the third quarter, cutting the Blackman lead to 18-16. The Blaze then gave themselves a bit of a cushion, scoring on two straight drives and extending their lead to 32-16 with 6:18 left in the third quarter. The Bruins answered back before the third quarter ended, though, which would make the score 32-22 Blackman heading into the fourth quarter. 

Brentwood punched in an eleven-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter to make the score 32-29 Blaze. Then, on the ensuing kickoff, Blackman fumbled to give Brentwood the ball in the red zone. They took advantage of the mistake with a touchdown that gave them their first lead since it was 2-0 at 35-32 Bruns with 11:07 left in the game. Brentwood would fumble, giving Blackman the ball and a chance to retake the lead. However, they were stopped on 4th and 8 in the red zone giving the Bruins the ball back with 4:23 left in the game.  

The Blaze’s chances looked bleak until Brentwood fumbled the ball again giving Blackman yet another chance to take the lead. Senior Kayvon Henderson punched it in from a couple of yards out to give Blackman a 38-35 lead with 3:48 left in the game. Henderson’s primary position is defensive end, but he had also been taking reps on offense in the offseason and took advantage of the opportunity he was given.  

“I like playing on both sides of the ball because I’m helping my team win in whatever way I can,” said Henderson. 

38-35 would be the final score as Blackman forced another turnover, getting an interception with 3:24 left in the game, allowing them to run out the clock and seal the win.  

“We play super aggressive on defense, and we’ve been preaching turnovers since I got here. The biggest things I care about on defense are points and turnovers. They had five, and we only had one. That ended up being the difference in the game,” said Tygard.  

Turnovers were indeed a big part of the game; one could say that if it were not for the turnovers, the Blaze were able to force, they may not have come away with a victory. Motivation was also a big factor in the game, as the Blaze were considered underdogs by many. 

“I think I saw that one reporter out of 50 picked us to win the game. We’ve talked about that all summer. We saw where we were picked in the state, and we saw we were picked fourth in our region, so that’s definitely been motivating,” said Tygard. 

Blackman now has to reshift their focus, as their Week 2 game at Gallatin was canceled due to COVID problems within Gallatin’s team.  

The Blaze will now host dreaded rival Riverdale in an annual contest, known locally as the “Backyard Brawl.” The game is on Friday night at 7 p.m. at The Inferno.