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Friendship Christian School

Division I, Class 2A High School Football
COMMANDERS
A Special Section of The Lebanon Democrat and Mt. Juliet News
2012
STATE
CHAMPS
2 I Friendship Christian State Championship 2012
Friendship Christian entered the 2012
season as the defending Class 2A state
champions.
When teams seek to defend a champi-
onship, the focus is usually on how many
starters are back and can players who grad-
uated be replaced.
At Friendship, the focus was on a key
addition - quarterback A.J. Long.
The junior moved to Lebanon early in
the summer to live with his mother after
passing for over 6,500 yards as a freshman
and sophomore at Pius X, a Class A
Catholic school in Bangor, Pa. As a sopho-
more, he accumulated 4,600 total yards and
63 touchdowns. An equal threat running
and passing, the 6-foot-1 Long had already
attracted interest from a dozen BCS schools
in all of the major conferences.
He’s a mixture of 6-4 Lee Sweeney, who
held all of FCS’ passing records and more
than his share of marks at Tennessee Tech,
and the 5-11 Lee Maasen, who was new to
playing quarterback but more than made
up for it with his running.
“He has as strong as arm as Lee,” Com-
mander coach John McNeal said of Long,
whose Keystone State highlights are avail-
able for viewing on YouTube. “Lee’s advan-
tage was he was 6-4. A.J.’s is he can run.
Arrival of star
quarterback
launches
another run
Quarterback A.J. Long throws during pregame warmups. photo Darren Brown
“We’ll definitely open up and do
some things we did with Lee
[Sweeney] and some things we did
with Lee Maasen. We’ll still run
some power stuff... Teams loaded
the box last year. He’ll make it a lit-
tle harder for people to do that.”
Week 0: Aug. 17
Friendship Christian 41,
Donelson Christian 7
Long and the Commanders
made it hard on people in opposing
uniforms - period, starting with a
season-opening trip to longtime-
rival Donelson Christian.
In his Tennessee debut, Long
completed half of his 12 passes for
221 yards and two touchdowns
while running for another score and
54 yards. His scoring strikes covered
26 and 47 yards to wideout Hunter
Watts.
Running back Austin Taylor
tacked on rushing scores of 10 and 2
yards. Watts got a third touchdown,
on a 26-yard interception return.
Week 1: Aug. 24
Friendship Christian 49,
White House Heritage 27
It was Cale Mitchell’s turn to get
rich in Friendship’s home opener as
the senior wideout caught touch-
down tosses of 64 and 18 yards
from Long, who opened the scoring
with an 18-yard run. Long com-
pleted 7 of 13 passes for 144 yards
and three TDs.
Sophomore running back Steven
Hollis ran for three touchdowns on
his way to a 98-yard night on 13
carries.
Friendship opened a 49-7 lead
before White House Heritage put 20
on the board in the fourth quarter.
Week 2: Aug. 31
Gordonsville 28,
Friendship Christian 21
A meeting between the 2011 2A
champs and a 1A semifinalists
brought Channel 4’s Rudy Kalis and
his Touchdown Friday helicopter to
Gordonsville’s Turney Ford Field on
an ultra-muggy night.
Long faked out the Tigers and
bolted for a 44-yard touchdown run
24 seconds into the game.
But Gordonsville’s Kaelin Cason
didn’t need to fake out Friendship
defenders. He simply broke their
By Andy Reed,
Sports Editor
Long hands off to running back Steven Hollis. photo Andy Reed
Friendship Christian State Championship 2012 I 3
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Christian Commanders!
State Champions 2 years in a row!
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tackles and ran for 229 yards and a
touchdown on 23 carries as the Tigers
handed the Commanders their first loss
since the previous September.
“Too much arm tackling,” McNeal
said.
The humidity took its toll as Cason
had to temporarily leave in the fourth
quarter, after most of his damage had
been done. Long was completely laid out
against the fence on the sideline after
scoring all three Friendship touchdowns
and essentially serving as the Command-
ers’ one-man offense with 295 total
yards. FCS outgained Gordonsville in
total yards 348-315, but came up empty
on two trips inside the Tiger 10-yard line
in the third quarter.
“I’ve played when it was this humid;
I haven’t played with that few people on
the depth chart,” McNeal said. “Our
depth is real thin and there’s nothing we
can do about that. We have so few play-
ers that just aren’t ready, yet. They can’t
help that. We had a lot of them going
down. Other guys went in and did the
best they could. I’m proud of them.
“It looked like they started trying to
stop the run and with our guys going
both ways, a little fatigue up front and
other areas, it seemed like they were giv-
ing us certain things in the passing game.
We did well there. We put ourselves in
position twice inside the 5 or better and
didn’t score, and that’s my fault. We just
took what they gave us. Our intention
was to have more running, but they were
playing tight on us and running more in
the box than what we originally
thought.”
Though the two teams play in the
same district, because of the TSSAA’s
playoff system which doubles the three
regular-season classes to six for the play-
offs, there would be no postseason re-
match as they play in separate classes.
“Hats off to Gordonsville,” McNeal
said. “They played well. They’re a good
team. I don’t see them not being in the
[1A] state championship game. To me,
that’s where they’re going to be.”
McNeal was spot-on as a prognosti-
cator. As it turned out, two of 2012’s state
champions met on this night.
Week 3: Sept. 7
Friendship Christian 49,
Clay County 6
With the two-week fall break eating
up two weeks of prime October home-
coming time, this football tradition often
comes earlier than ever at some schools.
Long riddled Clay County with four
touchdown passes almost as early - in
the first 13 minutes - covering 64, 42, 62
and 25 yards as the Commanders got
back on the track in the first of a four-
Running back Steven Hollis [2] was named Offensive Most Valuable Player and
linebacker Tanner Martin [55] garnered Defensive MVP honors. photo Darren Brown
4 I Friendship Christian State Championship 2012
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game homestand.
Week 4: Sept. 14
Friendship Christian 45,
Jackson County 0
The Commanders put up 42 first-half points for
the second straight week, scoring on all six pos-
sessions while limiting Jackson County to a single
first down.
After scoring on a 1-yard run, Long threw three
scoring strikes to Stefan Remus covering 7, 67 and
70 yards.
Week 5: Sept. 21
Friendship Christian 49,
Pickett County 8
FCS bought out Pickett County’s home game,
giving the Commanders’ six at home in 2012.
Wrapping up the four-game homestand,
Friendship put up 42 in the first half for the third
straight week. This time, the Commanders got 35
in the first quarter.
Long threw for all six scores in the first half -
covering 65, 54, 31, 4, 67 and 82 yards. Amazingly,
all went to different receivers.
Week 6: Sept. 28
Friendship Christian 31,
Trousdale County 0
The Commanders’ breakthrough to their first
championship a year ago began with a second-
round win at longtime nemesis Trousdale County.
The Yellow Jackets were rebuilding, at least by
their standards. But this game also marked the end
of the three-week run of overmatched opponents.
That didn’t keep Friendship from striking to a
21-0 first-quarter lead on a pair of short Hollis runs
and Long’s 37-yard pass to Remus.
FCS had trouble scoring after that as Trousdale
County kept a spy on Long, keeping him from
breaking long runs to the outside. But Hollis
emerged as a threat with 151 yards on 22 carries.
He also intercepted a pass at cornerback.
“My linemen were making huge holes for me,”
Hollis said.
Friendship’s defense held Trousdale to 167 total
yards. The Yellow Jackets’ best shot at scoring
came on Zach Blackwell’s 100-yard interception re-
turn, which was called back by a penalty.
“[The defense] did a good job,” McNeal said. “I
thought they played really well.”
Week 7: Oct. 5
Friendship Christian 66,
Watertown 26
The Commanders’ final trip to historic Robinson
Stadium turned into a score-a-thon as Friendship
handed the Purple Tigers their first loss for the sec-
ond straight season.
Behind quarterback Ty Jobe, Watertown’s spread
offense moved the ball with ease - with the exception
of six turnovers. Those miscues either left Friendship
with short fields for easy scores or stopped the Tigers
short of a score of their own.
Punter Cale Mitchell takes off on a fake to help set up Friend-
ship's first touchdown. photo Darren Brown
Friendship Christian State Championship 2012 I 5
Congratulations Commanders
on your 2012 Championship!
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Congratulations, Commanders!
“It could have changed the outcome,”
Watertown coach Gavin Webster said. “I
think we turned it over on the 5 twice and
all they had to do was turn around and
punch it in. We were getting ready to score
one time and turned it over.
“We did put 26 on the board, but
when you leave your defense hanging out
there a long time, you turn the ball over
six times, you’re leaving your defense
hanging out to dry.”
Watertown did borrowa page fromTrous-
dale County’s book and kept Long under con-
trol. But McNeal again turned the ball over to
Hollis, who exploded for 244 yards and three
touchdowns on 26 carries while intercepting
a pass and recovering a fumble.
“We lined up pretty much in two tights
and ran it downhill, nothing fancy,” McNeal
said after running the I-formation the entire
second half. “We felt like that was our best
defense. We struggled a little bit containing
Jobe from a defensive standpoint.”
Week 9: Oct. 19
Friendship Christian 41,
Red Boiling Springs 0
The big story this week wasn’t Friend-
ship’s final road trip until December. It was
FCS’ announced move to Division II start-
ing next year which will mean a different
set of rivals. DCA, Ezell-Harding and
Franklin Road Academy - though longtime
rivals - will step up in importance to
Friendship while Watertown, Gordonsville
and Trousdale County step back, if not off
the schedule altogether.
Red Boiling Springs probably won’t
miss seeing Friendship either after the Bull-
dogs watched Long launch four first-half
touchdown passes after launching himself
for a 52-yard scoring run to start the night.
Week 10: Oct. 26
Friendship Christian 43,
Monterey 16
Senior Night also took somewhat of a
backseat as, for the second straight year,
Friendship prefaced a season-ending win
over Monterey by going to Murfreesboro to
watch the school’s volleyball team take a
state championship.
The Commanders completed a 9-1 sea-
son by taking a 28-0 first-quarter lead as
defense and special teams produced almost
as many points as the offense.
After two Long-to-Watts touchdown
tosses, Dillon Hodges scored on a 37-yard
punt return, Watts on a 50-yard intercep-
tion return and Gabe Bentley on a 46-yard
fumble recovery.
Now, all that was left was to wait for the
TSSAA playoff announcements the follow-
ing morning. Joshua Luck kicks the final extra point out of Cale Mitchell's hold. photo Andy Reed
6 I Friendship Christian State Championship 2012 Friendship Christian State Championship 2012 I 7
OFFENSE
QB — #3 A.J. Long
RB — #2 Steven Hollis
#8 Austin Taylor
#10 Cale Mitchell
WR — #6 Hunter Watts
WR — #12 Stefan Remus
#15 Michael Hawks
WR — #10 Cale Mitchell
#17 Dillon Hodges
TE — #1 Parker Pinnell
#34 Cody Walker
T — #61 Andrew Wood
#70 Ben Dunn
G — #62 Ian Isbell
C — #53 Colton Gaines
G — #55 Tanner Martin
T — #74 Gregg Norton
DEFENSE
DT — #62 Ian Isbell
#74 Gregg Norton
NG — #59 Jeff Cherry
#61 Andrew Wood
DT — #70 Ben Dunn
#53 Colton Gaines
OLB— #8 Austin Taylor
ILB — #34 Cody Walker
#53 Colton Gaines
ILB — #55 Tanner Martin
OLB— #17 Dillon Hodges
CB — #2 Steven Hollis
#15 Michael Hawks
FS — #6 Hunter Watts
#3 A.J. Long
SS — #10 Cale Mitchell
#1 Parker Pinnell
CB — #12 Stefan Remus
SPECIAL TEAMS
P — #10 Cale Mitchell
#9 Tallon Mehlhoff
PK — #12 Stefan Remus
#80 Hunter Anderson
Congratulations
Commanders
on winning the
2012 State
Championship!
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2012 Friendship Christian School
COMMANDERS
No. Name Height Weight Class
1 Parker Pinnell 6-3 185 So.
2 Steven Hollis 5-8 150 So.
3 A.J. Long 6-1 180 Jr.
4 Dylan White 5-9 155 So.
5 Hayden White 6-0 145 Fr.
6 Hunter Watts 6-0 160 Sr.
7 Marshall Taylor 6-1 185 Fr.
8 Austin Taylor 5-8 165 So.
10 Cale Mitchell 5-10 180 Sr.
11 Jordan Macnamee 5-2 130 8th
12 Stefan Remus 5-10 190 Sr.
13 Price Cochran 5-10 135 Fr.
15 Michael Hawks 5-9 165 Jr.
17 Dillon Hodges 5-11 170 Sr.
18 Parker Hodges 5-6 140 Fr.
19 Eli Hunt 5-7 135 Fr.
21 Will Burruss 6-0 155 Fr.
22 Adam Neal 5-8 160 Jr.
23 Spencer Burge 5-6 130 8th
24 Gage Bentley 5-5 140 Fr.
26 Joshua Luck 5-6 135 Jr.
30 Jacob Self 5-7 165 So.
32 Heath Johnson 5-10 145 8th
33 Noah Leschorn 5-9 150 Fr.
34 Cody Walker 5-8 210 So.
39 Cade Ramsey 5-4 130 Fr.
40 Bob Edwards 5-10 140 8th
43 John Michael Petty 5-8 145 8th
44 Gene Carman 5-10 190 Fr.
50 Justin Truszkowski 5-9 160 Jr.
51 Logan Mehlhoff 5-6 200 Fr.
52 John Hendricks 5-8 190 So.
53 Colton Gaines 6-3 225 So.
54 Jordan Farris 5-10 215 Sr.
55 Tanner Martin 6-0 225 Sr.
59 Jeff Cherry 5-10 210 So.
60 Will Hall 6-2 195 Fr.
61 Andrew Wood 6-5 290 So.
62 Ian Isbell 6-3 280 Sr.
66 Jonathan Luck 5-5 125 Fr.
67 Joshua Eatherly 5-6 165 Fr.
70 Ben Dunn 6-0 260 Sr.
72 Dalton Paschal 5-9 165 Fr.
73 Nick Norton 6-0 210 Fr.
74 Gregg Norton 6-0 260 Sr.
77 Luke Shoulders 5-5 170 Fr.
79 Travis Gaither 6-0 150 8th
80 Blake Grosch 5-11 165 Jr.
88 Brad Ham 5-11 210 Fr.
8 I Friendship Christian State Championship 2012
PLAYOFFS
Round 2: Nov. 9
Friendship Christian 42, Cascade 6
Commander Nation couldn’t have scripted a better
scenario on playoff paper. With 2A heavyweights Boyd-
Buchanan, Grace Christian and Oneida in Pod 1, Friend-
ship took the top seed in Pod 2, leaving the Commanders
at Pirtle Field for as long as they kept winning. It also
meant a first-round bye.
Many Friendship players, coaches and fans returned
to Robinson Stadium as Watertown held a playoff game
for the first time since 1985. After matching Cascade
score for score in the early going, three turnovers ulti-
mately did in the Purple Tigers as the Champions pulled
off a 24-21 upset to earn a return trip to Wilson County,
this time to Possum Town.
And the week off appeared to do Friendship a lot of
good as the Commanders were clicking in all three
phases of the game.
Hollis had 132 of Friendship’s 269 rushing yards and
a pair of touchdowns. Long hit 9 of 11 passes for 175
yards and a couple of scores while adding 61 more on the
ground.
Blake Grosch’s hit all six extra points and Remus’
kickoffs kept Cascade bottled up most of the night.
The defense had a shutout going until Creed Rose
broke loose for a 77-yard run down the Cascade sideline,
setting up his 1-yard score in the fourth quarter.
“Our balance in our running and passing was better
than it had been in a while,” McNeal said. “[Defense]
did a good job. They stayed with their game plan.”
Quarterfinals: Nov. 26
Friendship Christian 49, Marion County 12
MCHS, a longtime power in the old Class AA, turned
to McNeal friend Mac McCurry to bring the Warriors
back to prominence and Marion County responded by
grabbing the No. 2 seed in Pod 2.
McCurry may have been a friend, but that didn’t
keep McNeal from unleashing the full force of A.J. Long
on the Warriors after scaling the quarterback in recent
weeks. Long passed for five touchdowns and accounted
for 344 total yards in the rout. Remus caught three touch-
downs and finished with 145 yards on five receptions.
“Our game plan was to get our backs the ball on the
outside and let them run,” Long said. “And then we re-
alized their defense was trying to flow outside tostop
that. So we ran our duck - we read it and the middle was
side open. It was just a great call by Coach.”
Several on Long’s 13 completions [out of 19 throws]
were of the diving variety.
“This is a special group of guys,” said Long, whose
2011 season in Pennsylvania ended in the quarterfinal
round. “When the ball is up in the air, they go and get
it, and there’s no doubt in their mind that they’re going
to come down with it. I’m blessed to have them on my
team and I just want to win a state championship for
them.”
While Friendship finished with 528 yards of offense,
Marion’s attack was one-dimensional as all 226 of the
Warriors’ real estate came on the ground. Hollis and
Remus picked off two of the visitors’ passes.
“We were able to make some audibles in the second
half when we caught them with no safeties,” McNeal
said. “We didn’t [run Long] in certain games when we
didn’t need it. There’s no reason to run him and let him
take hits and stuff. We knew coming down the stretch
we were going to have to, and we did last week.
“I was proud of our defense. We tried hard this week
to be disciplined and make sure receivers weren’t just
running loose on us. Our guys did a great job with their
reads.”
Semifinals: Nov. 23
Friendship Christian 27, Boyd-Buchanan 6
A controversial overtime win at Boyd-Buchanan in
last year’s quarterfinal sprung Friendship free to its first
championship. This time, the bad break for the Bucca-
neers came when quarterback Jim Cardwell rolled his
ankle late in the first half, limiting his effectiveness the
rest of the way and leaving the Chattanoogans’ offense
as sitting ducks for Duane Lowe’s defense.
“We knew [Caldwell] was hobbling a little big,”
Lowe said. “They weren’t able to roll him out, which re-
ally hurts their passing game that much more. Their of-
fense goes as he goes.”
And their offense couldn’t get going much anywhere
after Long’s 9-yard scoring flip to Remus in the first quar-
ter and his two 1-yard scores in the second. The latter
came on the final play of the first half after he found
Watts at the 1 for a 20-6 halftime lead. Long sealed the
deal with a 30-yarder up the seam to Mitchell late in the
third period.
Friendship’s third Black Friday win put the Com-
Stefan Remus [12] signals 'touchdown' as Steven Hollis plunges across the goal line for Friendship's final score. photo Darren Brown
Friendship Christian State Championship 2012 I 9
Congratulations
Commanders on
winning the
championship 2
years in a row!
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manders back in the BlueCross Bowl, which they lost in 2006 and won in ‘11.
McNeal and Lowe, a 1994 FCS graduate, have seen the Commanders go from a
program where five wins were considered a success to the verge of a dynasty.
“There were deals years and years ago we were just wanting to win ballgames,”
McNeal said. “We were just wanting respect, and that’s what we built on. And then
we started getting in the playoffs and getting further in the playoffs. And then all of a
sudden, we’re thinking ‘Can we get there? Can we make this reality?’
“Winning one and getting a chance at two, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
“The program’s come a long way and there’s a lot of people who have laid the
groundwork for us to get to where we are,” Lowe said. “I’ve seen a lot of alumni here,
and I know they’re proud of the school and the program, where it’s come from.
“It adds a little extra pressure, but that’s pressure you want.”
BlueCross Bowl: Dec. 1
Friendship Christian 44, Adamsville 7
Both teams entered the season’s final game at Tennessee Tech with 12-1 records.
The Cardinals featured a big line and deep roster - 74 strong.
Friendship dressed 49, but many were eighth-graders and freshmen. The Com-
manders’ ace was an explosive offense, a more-than-solid defense and the experience
of having been there and done that just 12 months earlier.
One day earlier, Gordonsville made McNeal’s late August prediction come true by
pulling off a 21-20 triumph over Huntingdon in one of the most exciting finishes imag-
inable.
Now, 24 hours later, coaches Ron Marshall and Mark Medley [the architects of
Lebanon’s seven-season playoff run of glory which began 25 years ago] were wearing
their blue Gordonsville garb high in the Tucker Stadium stands watching their soon to
depart rival give Region 4-A two championships.
Unlike Friday, there would be little suspense on Saturday. Austin Taylor, whose
lone carry in the 2011 BlueCross Bowl punctuated Friendship’s 34-0 win over Dresden,
scored on his first two carries of the ‘12 game - from 7 and 55 yards - to stake the
Commanders to a 14-0 lead. He scored three times on just five carries.
“To win one is a dream come true,” said Taylor, a sophomore who does double duty
at outside linebacker. “To win two is unbelievable. It’s something you never think of.
When you’re little, you hope to win one. To win two is incredible.”
But is was Hollis who earned Offensive Most Valuable Player honors after rushing
for 169 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
Inside linebacker Tanner Martin, a guard who was a finalist for Class A Mr. Foot-
ball Lineman [an honor won by Gordonsville’s Tyler Coen earlier in the week], was
named Defensive MVP.
“We knew we had a chance to come back and win it again,” Martin said. “We
knew we had the players to do it.”
Remus’ 32-yard field goal in the final minute opened a 17-0 halftime lead.
With the lead, McNeal played the field-position game in the third quarter and
Mitchell, whose punts played a big role in this game the season before and whose run
off a fake set up this game’s first score, pinned Adamsville deep. But John Reed Odom
took the snap and swept 73 yards down the Friendship sideline to bring the Cardinals
within 17-7.
Though plenty of time remained, Adamsville coach Brandon Gray rolled the dice
and went for it on fourth and less than a yard from the Cardinal 13. The sneak was
stuffed and Friendship took over. Long whistled a 15-yard strike to Hodges up the mid-
The victorious Commanders hoist the championship trophy for the second straight year.
photo Andy Reed
10 I Friendship Christian State Championship 2012
dle for a 24-7 lead.
“That was huge,” McNeal said. “As
a coach, I never second-guess anybody
because I second-guess myself enough.
Fourth and inches, I told [Lowe] we
need to get our two big boys on the
center and at least name them not go
in the A gap. They did and we got a
good push backwards. That was huge.
But scoring made it even better. If we
hadn’t scored, all it would have done
was eaten some clock.”
Remus then blocked a punt, which
rolled all the way to the 5, from where
Long rolled out and flipped a toss to
tight end Parker Pinnell three plays into
the fourth quarter.
Martin, who had seven solo tackles
and a pass breakup, recovered a fum-
ble, and Hollis took it into the end zone
from 3 yards out to seal the deal.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Long,
who said he has been offered scholar-
ships by UCLA, Syracuse and Arizona.
“Coming in and being able to share
with this group of guys is amazing.
There is no other group that I’ve come
across that made me feel welcome like
these guys. I came in the first day and I
felt like I had been here forever. I told
them, from the time I got here until
now, we were going to win a state
championship at any cost. It didn’t
matter what it was.
“They backed me up, I backed them
up and we got it done.”
In addition to back-to-back football
championships, this marked Friend-
ship’s fifth in just over 13 months. Mc-
Neal was an assistant coach last March
when the boys’ basketball team hoisted
the gold ball. His stepdaughter is a set-
ter on the volleyball team and he took
baseball to the school’s first crown in
2007.
“It doesn’t ever get satisfying. It does
get addictive,” McNeal said after com-
pleting a 25-4 two-year run. “A lot of
people don’t ever get a chance to even
play in one. We went a lot of years try-
ing to win a few games, not try to play
in the playoffs or play for a state cham-
pionship. You got people like Coach
Lowe, who was a part of us getting beat
a lot and now, a lot of the past people I
sawhere today were part of the building
program to get it where it has been over
the last few years.”
Stefan Remus [12] celebrates after he and his teammates successfully drench defensive co-
ordinator Duane Lowe [center] and head coach John McNeal with water at the end of the
game. photo Andy Reed
Friendship Christian School students continue to
prove they are champions both on the field of play and
through community outreach.
Friendship Christian School has seen growth in both
enrollment and retention, thanks in part to success in
the athletic arena.
“We are adding three more students at the [winter]
break,” said Friendship headmaster Jon Shoulders, who
lauds the 106 new students added to the rolls in recent
years. “Freshman and sophomore classes have the most
new students.”
The freshman and sophomore classes combined
make up 128 of the 217 students in high school at the tu-
ition-based pre-kindergarten through senior school that
will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year.
Shoulders said the school has also seen a strong re-
tention rate, “which is wonderful in this economy.”
He pointed to several recent successes in sports as a
big reason for the increase in enrollment. Since the 2006
Commanders football team finished runner-up for the
state championship, teams have garnered five state
championships in various sports. Its first was a state title
in baseball in 2007.
Last year, the school celebrated three state champi-
onships in volleyball, football and boys basketball. And
with the volleyball repeating as state champs already this
year, the football team will try and do the same Saturday
at 11 a.m. against Adamsville at Tucker Stadium on the
campus of Tennessee Tech in the Blue Cross Bowl.
“We are seeing [enrollment] numbers start to rise,”
Shoulders said. “Athletics is a big draw for us.”
And while Friendship Christian is seeing growth
through successes in sports, community outreach plays
a role in retention, as well as the school meeting needs
locally, statewide and even in other countries.
Shoulders is also proud of the students’ outreach
programs that included mission trips to Haiti for water
purification and a necklace ministry, as well as provid-
ing aid to Sneedville students. Sneedville ranks nation-
ally among poorest areas, and students help feed people
there at Thanksgiving, as well as providing clothing and
toys at Christmas.
“We set it up like a huge store, and everyone gets
1,000 Sneed Bucks,” Shoulders said. “They can buy
what they need, but it also gives them a chance to buy
for others.”
In addition, Friendship offensive lineman Ian Isbell,
recently named among the top linemen in Tennessee,
plans to dress up like Santa Claus to deliver gifts to peo-
ple in the Sneedville community.
At Thanksgiving, Shoulders said Friendship students
fed 1,025 people in Sneedville using the school’s cafete-
ria there.
“They let us come into the school and feed everyone
in the cafeteria,” he said. “We fed 500 students and fac-
ulty and carried another 525 into the community.”
Run4Water, a nonprofit organization headed by
Friendship Christian School teacher Greg Armstrong re-
turned from a summer mission trip to Haiti where the
group worked to install three water sterilization systems
in that country, which is still recovering from a devas-
tating earthquake in 2010.
But water systems weren’t the only thing the group
did to make life easier for the people of Haiti.
“Our trip to Haiti was amazing,” Armstrong said at
the time. “We installed three water purification systems,
delivered food to over 50 homes, conducted a Vacation
Bible School for approximately 100 children, taught an
English class and built a dog pin – all in one week.”
Shoulders said the school is working with a group of
women in Haiti to have them make necklaces. The neck-
laces will be sent to the school soon, and students plan
to sell them and send the money back to Haiti.
“Right now they are making them,” Shoulders said.
“Once they are made, they will send them to us and we
will sell them and send them the money.”
But it’s not just the older students who are making a
difference. As part of a mission projects by third- and
fourth-graders, senior citizens will get a little something
extra this Christmas.
Shoulders said the younger students decorate bags
with Christmas scenes as part of an art project. The third-
and fourth-graders then fill the bags with gifts for senior
citizens.
Students also recently adopted a single mother with
two children in the community. Soon she will receive do-
nations of food, money, small appliances and other ne-
cessities all collected by the students.
“Everybody gets to have a part,” Shoulders said. “It’s
not just the high school kids or the elementary kids.”
Friendship outreach champions
community needs
By Jared Felkins, Director of Content
Friendship Christian State Championship 2012 I 11
While Friendship Christian's football team was making its run for back-to-back championships, the volleyball team was wrapping up a repeat of its own. The Lady Commanders compiled 57 victories against
just four defeats in 2012. Friendship has posted a two-year mark of 104-15 since Randy Alley became coach. Kaitlyn Teeter repeated as State Tournament Most Valuable Player. One of the most coveted col-
lege prospects in the nation, the outside hitter signed to play for Lipscomb University shortly after the season. She was joined on the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Class A All-State team by fellow
hitters Ali Burroughs and Alex Sealy. FCS seniors Teeter, Burroughs and Morgan Imler were part of four District 8-A championships and, as middle schoolers, two Wilson County Volleyball Association crowns.
photo Andy Reed
Lady Commanders
Volleyball
2012 Class AState
Tournament Champs
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