This is the first time I have compiled a top 10 list for a decade and it was quite a challenge.
The past 10 years have produced countless special moments, games and seasons, so picking 10 was very difficult.
I tried not to let recency bias play a role, but it does seem like most of these stories happened over the past five years.
Thanks to everyone who made suggestions on social media. Some of those stories I had forgotten and appear below. Here’s hoping the 2020s are even better.
And, before you get into the list, there is one story I accidentally omitted in the print edition that has to be included.
From 2013 to 2016, Brighton’s Aubree Jones was the most dominant golfer, male or female, in Tennessee.
She won Class AAA (the largest classification in the state) state titles as a freshman in 2013 and as a sophomore in 2014. Jones finished second by two strokes in 2015 and runnerup by one stroke as a senior in 2016.
Her two-round score of 139 in 2014 is the fourth-lowest in state history and Jones is one of just 24 golfers to ever win multiple state titles.
Jones also won multiple titles on the summer circuit and is currently playing at Mississippi State, making her one of just a handful of Tipton County athletes to play a sport at a Power 5 school.
10. BHS football enjoys best season in history
When the Brighton High School football team started its 2017 season by losing three of its first four games, it sure didn’t seem like the Cardinals were going to have a historic season.
That, however, is exactly what happened.
Brighton scored 22 fourth-quarter points in a come-from-behind 52-46 Week 5 win against Kirby and that started a stretch that saw the Cardinals win eight of nine games to make the state semifinals for the first time in school history.
Five weeks after that victory, Brighton quarterback Malik Jackson accounted for nine touchdowns, yes nine, in a victory over Southwind. He ran for five scores and threw for four more in the key 69-50 region win that clinched a playoff spot.
A dramatic win against Munford followed that before the Cardinals erased a 34-7 halftime deficit against Southwind in the second round of the playoffs to win 49-48 and move on to a quarterfinal showdown against Henry County.
Brighton then pulled off probably the best win in program history by beating the Patriots 35-31 in Paris.
Beech stopped Brighton one win short of a state title game berth, but it was, and still is, the best season in program history.
9. Covington softball wins 48 games
An argument could be made Covington High School had the most consistent softball program in state in the 2000s as the Lady Chargers made the state tournament every season during that decade.
When the Lady Chargers advanced to the state tournament in 2010 for the 13th straight year, they were still looking for the first state title, and the nearly got it.
Covington won its first three games in the Class AA state tournament and moved on to the championship round. Camden had to beat Covington twice to deny the Lady Chargers a title and, unfortunately, that’s what happened.
Nevertheless, it was an incredible season for Covington.
The Lady Chargers set a school record with 48 wins and finished with just three losses, all of which came against state championship teams.
Covington started the season with seven straight wins before falling to Trinity Christian, which went on to win the Class A state title. Covington won 36 straight games before dropping the last two against Camden, which Covington beat in a winners’ bracket final.
Key players on that team, the last to make the state tournament, were Autumn Glenn, C.J. Browder, Sarah Elizabeth Cousar, Gabby Glenn and Bailey Morgan.
8. Max Griffith wins a world title
Tipton Countians have won a lot of state titles over the years, and even a handful of national titles.
But Max Griffith topped all that in July of 2018 when she took first place at the National Horseshoe Pitcher Association World Tournament in Florence, S.C.
Griffith, a retired Tipton County teacher, beat Canada’s Sylviane Moisan, who had won the title multiple times, in a playoff to win her first world title.
She put together a near perfect performance over six days of competition. She went 15-1 in match play, her only loss coming by one point, and made 775 ringers on 998 tosses.
Mar Ray, her twin sister, finished second in the world this year, which was her third runnerup finish.
7. MHS baseball makes dramatic run
There’s was definitely some optimism surrounding the Munford High School baseball team before the 2017 season started.
There was a new, enthusiastic head coach, Scotty Yount, running the program and a large senior class returning. Still, not too many could have predicted how the season would unfold.
During the regular season the Cougars were good, but certainly not great, as the team’s record hovered around the .500 mark for most of the season. Then the postseason began.
Munford staved off elimination by beating Brighton in a district tournament game and finished second, which meant a trip to powerful Arlington in the region semifinals. Arlington beat Munford 12-7 in the regular season, but, behind a strong pitching performance from Austin Cousar, the Cougars won 2-1 to make the sectionals for the first time in 13 years.
Four days later the Cougars dominated Collierville 6-0 to make state for the first time since 2004.
The Cougars went two and out in Murfreesboro, but in 2017 Munford proved it was one of the best programs in the state again.
6. TRA makes title game twice
The Tipton-Rosemark Academy baseball team did not win a state title this decade, but it made it to Murfreesboro three times and finished second twice, which is much more than most programs can say.
In 2014 the Rebels had to do it the hard way. After losing its opener to Knoxville Webb, TRA beat Battle Ground Academy and Webb to make it to the title game, where USJ beat them 8-4.
The 2018 trip was a different story. Rosemark beat Christ Presbyterian Academy and Christian Academy of Knoxville to start the tournament meaning the Rebels would have to get beat twice in the title series.
CAK beat Rosemark in game one and led game two 5-0 through two innings. The Rebels rallied to tie the score at 5-5 before ultimately losing 6-5.
It’s a pretty safe bet the Rebels will be in Murfreesboro again next decade, looking to bring home the program’s first state title.
5. First soccer team to make state
Tipton County has been known for excellence in football, baseball, softball, basketball, tennis, track, wrestling, bowling and even horseshoe pitching, but soccer? Not so much until late in this decade.
The Covington Lady Charger soccer team changed that perception by making the state tournament 2017 and again in 2018. No other Tipton County high school team, boys or girls, had ever made state before that and very few to close at all.
The Lady Chargers were overwhelmed 9-0 by Greeneville in its first appearance. In 2018, however, Covington trailed Nolensville just 1-0 at the half and hung tough before falling 6-0.
In addition to all that team success, Madison Luttrell, a senior on that 2018 team, set the state record for goals in a career with 243. Her 70 goals in 2017 are the second most ever by a Tennessee high school player.
4. Millican wins elusive NHRA title
Entering the National Hot Rod Association Thunder Valley Nationals in summer of 2017, Drummonds native Clay Millican had won 51 International Hot Road Association titles and six IHRA world championships and was the winningest Top Fuel IHRA driver in history.
He had not, however, won an NHRA Top Fuel title. That is no longer the case.
Millican defeated Leah Pritchett in the final to win. It was his 254th NHRA event and ninth final.
It was a bittersweet moment.
In the post-race interview he got very emotional as he showed a necklace with 25 hanging from it. That was the racing number of his son, Dalton Millican, who died at 22 the year before in a motorcycle accident.
Since Dalton’s death, Millican has traveled around the country promoting BRAKES, a teen pro-active driving school.
3. TRA softball wins two state titles
If the 2020s are anything like the previous decade, there are some good times ahead for the Tipton-Rosemark Academy softball program.
The Lady Rebels made the state tournament four times during an eight-year span, made the finals three times and won two state titles.
Rosemark was dominant in Murfreesboro during its title seasons in 2011 and 2014, going 6-0 in those two state tournaments against the state’s best DII-A teams. The Lady Rebels beat Davidson Academy 8-4 in the 2014 title game and University School of Jackson 7-5 for 2011 championship.
After near misses in 2015, 2016 and 2017, Rosemark made it back to state in 2018 and won
its first two state tournament games and looked to be in good shape to win a third state title.
Silverdale beat Rosemark in two straight close games and the Lady Rebels had to settle for second, but it was still quite a decade for one of the state’s most dominant programs.
2. Covington football plays in three state title games
There are a handful of football teams around the state that make the playoffs most years and find success when they get there.
However, there are very few who made it nine times during the 2010s, which is what Covington did, and fewer who make their playoffs appearances count just about every season.
Over the past 10 seasons, Covington made it to the semifinals or further five times. That’s some serious postseason consistency.
The Chargers made it to the semifinals in 2011 and 2019 and the title game in 2012, 2017 and 2018.
As we all know, Covington came super close in 2017 and 2018, but still does not own a state title.
There are approximately 300 high school football teams in Tennessee, though, and just about all of them would be ecstatic to have enjoyed a decade like Covington did.
1. Covington puts together magical baseball season
Even if head coach Brad Warmath and his wife, CHS teacher Paige Warmath, had not battled life-threatening illnesses …
Even if senior Kyle Ginn, who was hurt all season, had not limped on to the field to hit a homer in the title game …
Even if ESPN’s SportsCenter had not featured Covington’s baseball state title win …
Even if there was not a water tower in Covington with Brad Warmath’s and Kyle Ginn’s names on it …
Covington’s 2019 season would have been super awesome and appeared on this list somewhere. There’s no doubt about that.
Before those aforementioned four things happened, Covington was coming off two straight state tournament appearances. In 2017, the team came within a win for making it to the title game. In 2018, the team went two and out and the head coach stepped down.
Covington’s four Division I signees – Austin Baskin, Ty Warmath, Christian Delashmit and Brock Lomax – were all seniors in 2019 and the season had a now-or-never feel before it started. Also before the season started Brad Warmath was not healthy enough to coach.
As the season went along, a state title seemed to be the team’s destiny and that became more clear as the state tournament began. Covington beat Pigeon Forge and Nolensville (twice) comfortably to cruise into the title game.
Forrest, which beat Covington in the 2018 state tournament, never had a chance. Covington scored five runs in the first inning on the way to an 11-1 win and the program’s third state title.
Players, coaches and fans openly wept on the field at Middle Tennessee State University. Brad, who returned to coach in the state tournament, and Paige held hands and walked off into the sunset.
It was, hands down, no ifs, ands or buts, the sports story of the decade.