Eight years ago, a group of parents and practice-weary Fairview Titans Youth football players gathered to listen to Coach James “Bubba” Derrick explain how wrestling would make them better football players, better athletes, and better people.
He had a vision to grow the Fairview High School wrestling program. Those young athletes listened to Derrick and the hard work since that day culminated with Fairview winning its first state championship. The Yellow Jackets defeated Pigeon Forge 39-36 to win the TSSAA Class A/AA Dual Championship on Feb. 6 at Nolensville High School.
The following Fairview athletes were among the standouts that Derrick convinced with his message years ago: Riley Bennett, Jacob Clevenger, Blake Mitchell, Malachi Bennett, Kendrick Curtis, Sam Hammon, Brody Cox and Marco Pukl.
“This is huge for our kids and our program, huge for our school and Administration, huge for our county and huge for the Fairview community. We made history today, but we also cemented the future of wrestling in our town,” Derrick said. “I love our kids. They are a mature group of young athletes who have learned that this sport prepares them for life and that when they put their toe on that red or green line, they represent more than themselves. I could not be more proud right now.”
The semifinals featured the No. 2 seed Fairview against the No. 3 seed Hixson and No. 1 seed and back-to-back State Champions, Pigeon Forge, against the No. 4 seed Signal Mountain.
The match of the dual semifinal was in the heavyweight class.
The Yellow Jackets sent out Jacob Clevenger, who weighed in at 208 lbs, to battle with Landon Moore (13-1) who outweighed him by over 80 lbs.
During the back-and-forth match, Moore took a 11-9 lead. Derrick immediately had Clevenger allow his opponent back to his feet knowing that his wrestler could tie it up with another takedown. However, Clevenger, exhausted, was slow to return to center and was hit with a 1-point stall call extending Moore’s lead to 3. With 1 minute left in the match, both wrestlers returned to the center of the mat in neutral. Clevenger scored a quick takedown, Moore a quick escape, and Clevenger with another quick takedown knotting the bout at 13-13 with :47 left. Clevenger now in the top position, was just too exhausted to hold his much larger opponent down and with :25 seconds left Moore recorded the escape and a 1-point lead. In desperation, Clevenger worked for a doubled leg takedown with :14 seconds left, Moore had a tight body lock around his smaller opponent and tried to flip him over his head, Clevenger landed in an advantageous position, with Moore still on his back and Clevenger facing away from his opponent’s head with both arms locked up, he dug deep, squeezed tightly, and leaned back pinning Moore with just :03 left on the clock.
Overall, Fairview defeated Hixson 44-31 in the first semifinal.
· 132 – Caleb Miller (Hixson) over Jeffery Anderson (Fairview) Maj 15-7
· 138 – Riley Bennett (Fairview) over Cole Shackleford (Hixson) Fall 0:55
· 145 – Bradley Woodall (Hixson) over Mathew Cox (Fairview) Fall 3:34
· 152 – Blake Mitchell (Fairview) over Jonas Vandergriff (Hixson) Fall 1:55
· 160 – Malachi Bennett (Fairview) over Kobie Smith (Hixson) Dec 8-3