Battle Ground Academy returns plenty of top talent in 2019, just a season removed from a runner-up finish in Division II-AA.
One new face on campus, though, is head football coach Jonas Rodriguez. He was hired in April to replace Roc Batten, who had guided the Wildcats for eight seasons with two championship game appearances.
Rodriguez led a rebuilding effort at Evangelical Christian School for two seasons, going 13-10 in that span with playoff appearances both seasons, while being named the DII-AA West Region Coach of the Year in 2018.
“It’s been great to get to know these kids and work with a new set of coaches,” said Rodriguez, who has 15 years of coaching experience and was former multi-sport standout at Montgomery Bell Academy. “The parents of our players have been fantastic and I’m just really excited about this season and building on the success of this program.”
Rodriguez can turn to senior quarterback Nick Semptimphelter on the field to help lead BGA. The Bucknell commitment threw for more than 3,100 yards with 36 touchdowns in leading the Wildcats to the championship game a season ago.
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2019 High School Football Media Guide
Brentwood Academy hoisted the 2018 Division II-AAA championship trophy – the Eagles fourth in a row.
Brentwood Academy coach Cody White has led the Eagles to four straight championships and has a 71-15 record over seven years at BA.
Amir Annoor drags down Jalen Hollman of MUS during Brentwood Academy's championship win in 2018. He's flanked by Devyn Curtis, right. Both return to help anchor a stout defense for the Eagles.
Senior Wade Williams returns as the Brentwood Academy quarterback.
BGA senior Antonio Stevens recently committed to play college football at Purdue. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound safety also had high interest from Cincinnati, Louisville and Memphis among others.
Jonas Rodriguez enters his first season as head coach for BGA football.
Garnett Hollis Jr. committed to Northwestern recently. The Wildcats senior is one of the top returning receivers for BGA. He uses his length and strength to be menace at cornerback as well.
Nick Semptimphelter, a Bucknell commit, threw for more than 3,100 yards last season to lead the Wildcats to the championship game.
Junior quarterback Cade Granzow accounted for 27 touchdowns last season for the Bruins.
Brentwood coach Ron Crawford has gone 35-16 in the last four years with the Bruins. He is 157-76 overall.
Brentwood senior Walker Merrill, a wide receiver, has garnered offers from Auburn, Kentucky, Nebraska and others as four-star recruit.
Centennial coach Matt Kriesky has produced an 18-16 record in three seasons leading the Cougars.
Desmond Smith, who transferred from Spring Hill last year, missed the first five games of the season due to the change. He'll be making the switch from wide receiver to running back for the Cougars this season.
Centennial's Grayson Marcel, a 6-foot-4 senior, battled injuries last season, but has proven to be a threat under center for the Cougars. He missed four games in 2018 and threw for more than 1,400 yards.
Centennial senior Kevin Townsel Jr. is one of the top returning playmakers for the Cougars this season.
The Christ Presbyterian Academy football team completed a 14-0 unbeaten season in 2018.
CPA's Ingle Martin has produced a 99-16 record as head coach over eight seasons with the Lions.
Jarrett Mathews, No. 66, is one of just a handful of returners from CPA's unbeaten team that won the Division II-AA championship last season. The Lions graduated 31 seniors.
Chris Hughes guided Fairview to a 10-3 record in 2018. He is 90-31 in 10 seasons with the Yellow Jackets.
Logan Nardozzi, a Fairview junior, rushed for more than 1,500 yards last season.
Fairview reached the Class 3A quarterfinals for the third time in four seasons in 2018, but fell against Stratford to miss out on the program's first semifinal appearance.
Father Ryan coach Brian Rector and the Irish will try to end an eight-game losing streak in Week 1. The Irish nearly pulled off the upset in the first round of the playoffs in 2018.
Father Ryan senior Antonio Wright and brother Anthony are among the 13 returning starters this season.
Father Ryan junior David Charles (DC) Tabscott has picked up several offers, including the likes of Purdue, Kentucky and Boston College.
Franklin coach Donnie Webb enters his eighth season leading the Rebels. He's produced a 47-31 record.
Jett Wilson of Franklin is one of just a handful of starters returning on defense for the Rebels.
Franklin senior Josh Nichols started at quarterback last season, but will see some time at receiver this year for the Rebels.
Head coach Rusty Smith guided GCA in its transition from 8-man football and now will lead the Lions into Division II-A.
Grace Christian Academy, located near Leiper's Fork, joins Division II, Class A in 2019.
Independence's Chase Robertson, a 6-foot-4, 245-pounder, recently committed to Princeton. Along with Carter Runnion and Caleb Lanford, the trio anchor the defensive line for the Eagles.
Head coach Scott Blade is 56-22 in six years at Independence.
Senior Ethan Cash returns to lead the Independence offense under center. He threw for more than 2,200 yards last season with just five interceptions.
Nolensville coach Paul Derrick went 7-5 in his first season at the helm for the Knights in 2018.
Nolensville's Ryan Pistulka, No. 34, is among several key returners for the Knights in 2019.
Junior Ryder Galardi took over as the starter at quarterback last season at Nolensville and returns to lead the Knights offense.
The Nolensville football team has produced back-to-back playoff appearances despite only entering the school's fourth season of playing varsity football.
Senior Bubba Johnson, pictured here in 2017, transferred back to Page after spending his junior season at Spring Hill.
Page senior Cade Walker guided the Patriots to a 10-2 record in 2018. Walker threw for 1,961 yards with 23 touchdowns as a junior.
Coach Charles Rathbone enters his eighth season as head coach at Page. He's produced a 50-30 record.
Senior Miles Bonn is one of the top returning targets for the Page passing game.
Senior Brian Garcia enters his third season as the starting quarterback at Ravenwood.
Ravenwood senior Bryan Rice, a 6-foot, 224-pounder, was named the Region 6-6A Defensive Player of the Year in 2018.
Ravenwood coach Matt Daniels is in his third year leading the Raptors. He's 20-6 in his first two years.
Graham Barton, a Duke signee, leads an offensive line that returns this season almost completely intact a year removed from a run to the Class 6A semifinals.
Brian Coleman has gone 27-28 in five seasons as head coach for Summit.
Sophomore Destin Wade returns at quarterback to lead the Summit offense.
Summit's George Odimegwu rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season for the Spartans. The senior has attracted offers from Western Kentucky and Illinois State among others.
Keaten Wade and twin brother Destin return as sophomores for the Summit Spartans in 2019. The multi-sport studs helped Summit reach the playoffs a season ago.
Semptimphelter has two of his top targets back in Purdue commit Antonio Stevens and Northwestern commit Garnett Hollis Jr. – two-way players who lead the defense as well.
At running back, Briston Bennett and Kaleb Seay will continue their ball-carrying duties on offense and also be relied on defensively. The pair combined for more than 1,200 yards on the ground last season as BGA pieced together a seven-game win streak to reach the final, averaging a shade under 40 points per game.
“I think our offense can be really exciting to watch,” Rodriguez said. “We have a number of guys who can do some really good things with the ball in their hands. … Our major focus is developing our young line.”
BGA returns 10 starters overall, but lost seven players to graduation from the trenches. Several freshmen and sophomores will be playing key roles on the line, Rodriguez said.
“They are coming along,” he said. “We really are still trying to identify our best lineup on both the offensive and defensive lines.”
Senior Cade Jenkins is the veteran of the group along with junior Iman Lohrasbi and sophomore Zion Morris in the trenches.
“We will be doing some adjustments as we go,” Rodriguez said. “The guys coming back at least have a moderate understanding of what it takes to (get to the championship), but the crucial piece is for us to stay process-focused not outcome-focused.
“The task right now for us is to continue to develop our team chemistry.”
BGA opens the season with two road games at McGavock and at Father Ryan before returning for their home opener and region opener against Goodpasture.
The Wildcats championship rematch against Christ Presbyterian Academy will be in Week 5 on Sept. 20. Other non-conference games include home contests against Franklin-Simpson of Kentucky on Sept. 13 and against East Nashville (Sept. 27) and Lincoln County (Oct. 17.) BGA closes the regular season on the road at Spring Hill and Lipscomb Academy.
“We have some really talented kids who played a lot last year as juniors and will definitely be leaders for us this season with a nice mix of young faces,” Rodriguez said. “It’s really just exciting to see the kids working hard and then getting that reward to play on Friday nights.
“It’s finally here.”
This story and photos are included in the 2019 Williamson Herald High School Football Media Guide! Pick up your copy for stories like this, full schedules, predictions and more!