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- Mineral Springs
By John R. Schirmer
“It’s time,” according to Nashville Athletic Director James “Bunch” Nichols. “Everybody on every level knows it’s time to play football in the South – high school and college.”
The Nashville Scrappers will begin their second season on the artificial turf at Scrapper Stadium when they host the Hope Bobcats Sept. 1 at 7:30 p.m. “We want a full house,” Nichols said.
The Scrappers have “lots of youngsters. They’ll strap up and play.”
New coaches include Glennon Bobo, offensive line at high school; and John Martin, offensive line at junior high. Bobo is a former Ashdown Panther. He played on defense at Henderson State while Coach Mike Volarvich was the Reddies’ offensive coordinator.
Martin is a Nashville Scrapper who coached at Mineral Springs before coming to Nashville.
“There’s not a harder worker, and he takes that same approach to teach kids to do the right things on and off the field,” Nichols said.
“Junior high is important to the senior high program. Those coaches have done the right things with their kids,” including Rick Baker, Ted Green and Kyle Slayton. The junior Scrappers will carry a 56-game winning streak into the season.
Nichols said there is “a big push in high school and college for athletes to play more than one sport. We love football. We want kids to play basketball and run track and participate in all sports. It makes them better if they go on to college, NFL, NBA, MLB.”
Golf and tennis players started earlier in the summer. Golfers “have always gone to state. Tennis has a lot or returnees. Coach Damon Williams does a heck of a job.”
The Scrapperette basketball team hosted team camps at Scrapper Arena last month. “They lost some key players to graduation, but there are a lot of young ones. We expect big things,” Nichols said.
Coach Aaron Worthen will have “an unbelievable group at junior high” in basketball, according to Nichols. “The junior girls will be really good.
The Scrapper track team finished fourth at state last year and will have “a lot of returners.”
Softball finished the season as the state runner-up and will have three starters back, along with “a lot of freshmen and sophomores from last year. They’ll compete at a high level.”
Scrapper baseball will enter the season as the defending Class 4A state champion. “They lost a lot of seniors, but there is a real strong freshman class coming up along with the sophomores and juniors. They’ll have another chance to go far,” Nichols said.
A makeover is underway at the Scrappers’ home field, Wilson Park. “We’ll make it a little nicer. This will be done in three phases,” Nichols said. There’s a new roof and new dugouts, along with netting in place of a chainlink fence between the field and stands.
“It’s only going to get nicer. I’m excited about that.”
Along with his role as athletic director, Nichols is also director of maintenance and transportation.
Maintenance goes on year round, Nichols said. “As soon as the doors shut at the end of the year, we start getting ready for the first day. It’s been a full-time summer job.”
The district had a smaller staff this summer and outsourced some of the cleaning work.
Workers are “changing as many lights as we can to LEDs,” Nichols said. “They will be more economical. We can replace a whole light for the price of a ballast.”
Kelsey Willard, A.J. Whitmore and Jacob Teague were responsible for much of the summer work, Nichols said.
Transportation will be “a little different this year,” Nichols said. “Bus drivers are hard to find. Some retired; some got other jobs. We had some routes that were down in numbers, and e tried to consolidate some routes. We’ve gone from 20-17 routes. If there are too many kids on a bus, we’ll bring a route back.
“I want to be safe. I’m very conscious of what’s going on. I hold my breath every day until all buses are back from their routes,” Nichols said.
Buses have child check alarms which drivers must turn off every day when they ensure that all children are off the bus. “We’ve done it for three years.”
The district has two new buses. “We’re appreciate to Superintendent Doug Graham and the Nashville School Board,” Nichols said.
One bus will carry 71 passengers; the other is a 14-passenger mini bus which will be “handy for small groups. We can put kids on it and take off.”
Nichols said he is excited about the new bus garage which the district will construct during the year. “The current one goes back to 1967-68. Coy Aylett built it. It’s been a good one.”
The new shop will include space for a meeting room and has the option of adding a covered shed for the buses. “If you buy a new car, do you want it out in the sun or inside? At the first of the year, we’ll have cooler buses in the afternoon,” along with protecting the vehicles from the weather.
Nichols reminds motorists that the “big yellow buses” will be sent out Aug. 14. “Remember a yellow light means slow down, and red means stop. Never pass a bus with red lights on.”
Nichols said he is starting his 32nd year at Nashville. “There’s not a better place to teach or coach. I’m extremely excited about the coming year.”