STORY BY GRANT LEDGISTER | PHOTO BY ANDY COLLIGNON
This season will be a different one for BGA. The team will look to build off the success it had last year with its new head coach Jonas Rodriguez.
Rodriguez replaces Roc Batten, who had spent the past eight seasons at BGA, leading the Wildcats to state title game berths in 2014 and 2018. He now coaches at Ensworth.
The good news for BGA is their new coach has several years of coaching experience prior to his first season as head coach of the Wildcats, so things shouldn’t be totally new for him.
Most recently, Rodriguez went 13-10 in two seasons with the ECS Eagles to go on top of his years serving as defensive coordinator for Montgomery Bell Academy and Ensworth.
Last year, the Wildcats had a total record of 11-3, eventually falling to CPA in the DII-AA state title game.
For the 2019 season, BGA opens with two straight away games against McGavock and Father Ryan, before a two-game home stand versus division opponent Goodpasture and Franklin-Simpson.
The team plays at CPA, is home for three games (East Nashville Magnet, FRA and Lincoln County) before ending the season at Spring Hill and with a big game against Lipscomb Academy and new head coach of that school, Trent Dilfer.
For 2019, BGA is losing over 15 members, many playing on both sides of the ball. This means that Rodriguez will have a lot of young talent to work with and develop, as BGA is heading into the 2019 season with 17 freshmen on the roster.
The offense is losing running back/receiver Tiy Reed, whose 53 receptions for 742 yards and 10 touchdowns led the team last year.
This upcoming season, BGA will look to lean on its upperclassmen players for its offensive attack, such as quarterback Nick Semptimphelter (68.5 completion percent last season with 227.6 YPG and 36 touchdowns last season), running back tandem Kaleb Seay (128 carries for 715 yards and 7 touchdowns) and Briston Bennett (63 carries for 442 yards), and wide receiver Antonio Stevens (38 receptions for 667 yards and 9 touchdowns).
The team will need these players to step up and help lead the team to ensure the Wildcats find the success they are looking for in this transition year.
On defense, the Wildcats will be without sack leader Chico Bennett (off to Georgia Tech) and two of their tackle leaders in Trace Adams and Evan Gaunt (both tied with 18 tackles in 2018).
The team will look to names like Northwestern commit Garnett Hollis Jr., Purdue commit Stevens and Charlotte commit Bennett to fill some of the impact on defense. They form a formidable trio in the secondary, one of the best in the county.