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As the Collins Titans run out onto field for the Class AAAA championship game Saturday in Bowling Green, they will draw on their experiences from the season and from last year’s trip to the title game.
And nearly a dozen of those players will also be able to draw on experience gleaned decades ago as their fathers took the field in big games, including state championship games, for the Shelby County Rockets.
“Coach [Tom] Becherer and his staff built a very strong tradition of excellence for football in this county and that’s going to be around long after we’re gone,” Titans’ head coach Jerry Lucas said. “That’s something we’re trying to build on. It’s really special to see that group coming back through again.”
Becherer, who is now the defensive coordinator for the Titans, said seeing his players come full circle isn’t something he expected, but he has enjoyed it.
“It makes it more special,” he said. “The success a lot of those guys had, it’s been really enjoyable seeing their kids come through.”
And for Becherer, his connection runs even deeper.
Players Browning and Bennett Becherer and Lawson Page are all his grandsons.
“It has been a real blessing, getting to coach them and all the kids,” he said. “Seeing all these names come through again. It’s a special group. It’s certainly made it more fun for an old man.”
All-purpose back Dre Farris – who’s father Lamour Farris and stepfather Reggie Hicks both played at SCHS – said it’s nice to have some extra support.
“They just tell me to go out and make plays,” he said. “My stepdad [who led the Rockets to the 1987 title] gives me the most grief, but if you ask him he wants us to win.
“My dad always tells me to just get the ball and go. He always says once I get in the open field it’s not a football game, it’s a track meet, so I just try to remember that.”
Page, the Titans’ quarterback, says he leans on his dad a lot.
“He’s my role model, he’s taught me everything I know,” he said of Frank Page, who earned an honorable mention All-State nod during his playing days. “He was a wide receiver, but he knows a lot.”
Michael and Kyle Goss, whose dad, Richard Goss, played offensive line for Becherer, said their dad is supportive.
“He likes to watch film,” Michael Goss said. “And he’s really encouraging, but he’s not out there coaching us too much. He just tells me to do a good job.”
Added Kyle Goss: “It kind of adds some competition to it. You want to do good because you know he did.”
And for linemen Mark Bradford and Jalen Stone, that competition is alive and well.
“My dad always says he’d chop me down like a tree,” Bradford said. “But it’s kind of fun to think about going against them.”
And Stone said his dad is the same way.
“My dad says he’d put me on my back,” he said.
“But his dad is huge. He’s a mountain of a man,” Bradford said.
Living up to a legacy on the field can be tough, but Isaiah and Elijah Jones – whose father, Junior Jones, went on to play at the University of Louisville – said there’s no added pressure.
“He just wants us to work hard,” said Isaiah Jones. “Plus, he was a wide receiver and we’re mostly defensive backs.”
Added Elijah: “He doesn’t get on us, or give us a hard time, but it [his success] does motivate us to play harder.”
Although most said their fathers don’t compare their own playing styles or careers to that of their kids, almost all of the kids said their dads will compare the teams.
“He likes to compare their team to ours, and he always says they’re better,” Kyle Goss said.
Browning Becherer, whose dad, Edmund, played for his grandfather on the 1987 title team, agreed, too.
“I think they would beat us; they had more heart,” he said and quickly received a groan from his teammates. “I mean, they just worked hard. Nobody was goofing off in practice. They weren’t the most talented team, but they won the title.”
And that’s something all these players can take from those earlier teams.
“It just makes us proud and makes us want to work harder,” Sam Harrod said.