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Tnsports360 Football: Cooper, Dillehay finish with memorable runs

Jimmy Trodglen/


By Jimmy Trodglen


CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – It was a record-setting season for Montgomery Central, with the Indians coming within four points of being undefeated and playing in the state playoff quarterfinals.

Clarksville High had its best season in a decade thanks to senior quarterback Ford Cooper, who had one of the city’s most memorable performances in a playoff loss.

Northeast had the talent capable of reaching the state finals, but witnessed its season sidelined after forfeiting five wins because of an ineligible player.

Rossview had one of the state’s top kickers, while Clarksville Academy watched its three-star quarterback carry it back to the playoffs.

The 2018 season for Clarksville area football had its share of unique storylines and proved to be a season populated with memorable headlines.

For the record, here were the highlights of the 2018 season.

  • Montgomery Central won a program record 10 games.
  • Clarksville High had its best season in more than a decade, finishing with eight wins.
  • Zaden Webber was named to the Class 6A all-state team and was a finalist for the Kicker of the Year.
  • Montgomery Central had a pair of 1,000-yard runners.
  • Clarksville High quarterback Ford Cooper accounted for 32 touchdowns and more than 2,300 total offensive yards.
  • Northeast’s Fred Orr and Tyrique Freeman combined for more than 2,000 rushing yards.
  • Northwest quarterback Gabe Sibert was putting up monster passing numbers before dealing with injuries late in the season.
  • Clarksville Academy quarterback Bryce Robinson continued to break most of the Cougars’ passing records.


The final chapter to the season was added with the third annual Football Team. Here are the individual honors as selected by editor Jimmy Trodglen.

 Coach of the Year: Jeff Tomlinson,          Montgomery Central

Montgomery Central finished the season 10-2 losing to Jackson North Side in the second round of the playoffs. Both of the Indians’ losses – to North Side and Springfield – were by two points. The Indians set a program record for wins, the Indians hosted only their second playoff game and won their first playoff game, scoring in the game’s final minute to beat Hardin County.

The Indians had a pair of 1,000-yard rushers and an offensive line that was fundamentally sound. The Indians were one of the least penalized teams in the midstate, didn’t turn the ball over and made a habit of winning the close games, especially when they started the season 7-0.

Tomlinson has tried to build a program capable of consistently winning, including playoff games. The Indians will have to replace a senior class that dominated the two-deep chart, but winning can change a program’s perspective and approach, especially in offseason conditioning.


Player of the Year: Ford Cooper,

Clarksville High

Cooper split snaps at quarterback with Skyler Luna during his junior year, but as a senior it was Cooper who directed a potent Wildcats’ offense. Clarksville High had its deepest receiving corps in years and a quarterback who could throw the short and intermediate passes, plus he was a capable runner.

When the Wildcats lost athlete Joshua Watch in the first quarter of the season opener against Rossview to a knee injury, Cooper’s ability to combine throwing accuracy, and the ability to scramble, made him the city’s top all-around quarterback.

Cooper threw for 1,162 yards and 20 touchdowns, completing 84 of his 176 attempts. He only threw four interceptions.

Cooper rushed for 660 yards and 12 touchdowns and his most impressive effort occurred in Clarksville High’s playoff game with Southwind. Cooper suffered a dislocated shoulder but returned to help the Wildcats rally from a two-touchdown effort to force overtime.


Offensive Player of the Year:

Devontay Skelton, Montgomery Central

The Indians senior running back finished with 1,389 yards and 24 touchdowns. Skelton averaged 7.5 yards a carry and accounted for some of the Indians’ most timely touchdowns. Skelton combined speed, strength and stamina, often running stronger in the fourth quarter than he did in the first half.

Skelton was half of a Montgomery Central running back duo that accounted for more than 2,100 rushing yards. Skelton had some of his best runs in the Indians’ biggest games, primary in the Indians’ games against Springfield, Hardin County, North Side and Greenbrier.


Defensive Player of the Year:

Devon Dillehay, Northeast

Dillehay was the dominant playmaker on the Eagles defense, finishing the season with 95 tackles, 29 for loss and 11 sacks. He also had two blocked punts and two forced fumbles.

Dillehay left the Henry County in the first half with an ankle injury and never returned. His leadership and playmaking skills were missed. Dillehay missed Northeast’s regular-season game with East Nashville, a game where the Eagles would’ve had a decisive edge with Dillehay on the field. Dillehay was selected to play in the Toyota East-West All-Star Classic but had to miss the game because of an injury.

Dillehay has received a preferred walk-on offer from Tennessee and likely will be in Knoxville next fall.