MC Passing Day opens prep football
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The first taste of football begins this weekend when Maryville College hosts the Fifth East Tennessee 7 on 7 Perimeter Passing Day. Organized by former Scots football players Nick White (1998) and Brian Gossett (2000), the event was moved from Lenoir City to Maryville College in the summer of 2008 and dedicated to the memory of MC player and coach Cody Bowers.
“Nic White and I were classmates at Maryville College and played football together here,” Gossett, now an Alcoa assistant, told The Daily Times. “We put this on in memory of coach Cody Bowers who died tragically while he was coaching here. The first year we put it on all the proceeds went to building the statue on Honaker Field and since then we’ve used the funds to help the MC football program out by donating money in Cody’s memory. We’ve had a lot of support from a lot of local businesses and schools. It’s gotten a lot bigger than we ever thought it would.”
With 26 teams expected to participate on Saturday the College will be a busy place as the soccer field, football practice field, Honaker Field and the baseball out field field at Scotland Yard will take on hosting duties for the 7-on-7 passing matches.
“We’ve had as many as 30 but 28 is really the most we can handle with the fields we have available,” Gossett said. “We pool schools into group of six and they play each other so they can play five times. The games are about 40 minutes long. What makes ours a little bit unique is that we don’t keep score or hand out a trophy or anything like that. It’s just an opportunity for coaches and their teams to get together and work on things they need to work on for the season. That format makes it a lot easier on people because there isn’t that pressure of trying to win or get a trophy.”
The first games begin at 10 a.m. and continue through the morning and afternoon with games starting on the hour and the last games starting at 5 p.m. Admission to the event is $5 and concessions and T-shirts will be on sale.
“It’s very much a bring your chair and enjoy the football event,” Gossett said.
Current and former Maryville College football players and other MC alumni serve as volunteers for the event and the Maryville College coaching staff will be on hand as well. It will be first passing day for new head coach Mike Rader and the majority of his staff, but the importance of the event to the MC community was something Rader understood before he even took the job.
“Even on my job interview, one of the first questions the alumni asked me was would I be willing to have the 7-on-7 camp that had been going on. I’d heard about it even down in Alabama and knew what it was for,” Rader told The Daily Times. “When I took the job we’ve been planning on this day off and on for months now, the last few weeks it’s gotten pretty serious. We met Monday for about an hour and a half on the logistics and security and concessions, everything you can think of we’re trying to figure it out and get it in place.”
Rader also intends for the staff to make the most of the day from a recruiting standpoint as well. With a lot of local talent moving around the campus, the Scots intend to let the players who have an interest get the recruiting ball rolling.
“From the staff’s side we’re trying to be more organized with our recruiting — expose them to our staff and let them see the campus and what we’re about,” Rader said. “The same time we can have questionnaires and the basic paper work available especially for the seniors, which is really a bulk of the work we do behind the scenes when it comes to recruiting. We’d really like to try to take care of much that up front now as we can, so that we have a large chunk of the local guys already in the database.”
There will also be some catching up and more introductions for Rader to the widely spun tentacles of MC alums in the local coaching circles.
“When we set out to do this initially the first people we invited were people that had Maryville College folks on their coaching staff and there are all kinds of ties to Maryville College,” Gossett said. “So its good to get those guys around, sometimes it’s the only time we get to see each other because of football season, so it’s good to all get together.”