Yellow Jackets put 12 on All-Region football team

Coming off their most successful season since 2014, the Trousdale County Yellow Jackets had 12 players named to the All-Region 4-2A team.

The Yellow Jackets finished 8-4, winning the region championship and reaching the second round of the playoffs.

Quarterback Keyvont Baines was named the region’s Offensive Player of the Year, while lineman Jake Gregory won honors as Defensive Player of the Year. First-year coach Brad Waggoner was also named the region’s Coach of the Year.

Baines, a junior, rushed for 1,005 yards on 129 attempts, averaging 7.8 yards per carry, and scored 11 touchdowns. He also threw for 853 yards and seven TDs.

“Keyvont had a great year for us,” Waggoner said. “He was a dynamic player for us on offense and in the return game too. Most teams didn’t kick the ball to him, so he didn’t get many chances to return kickoffs.

“Keyvont’s a player we’re really looking forward to having back next year. He will give you everything he’s got every Friday night.”

Gregory, also a junior, finished the season with 125 tackles, 20 of those for loss. He had two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

“Jake is probably the best football player in the region,” Waggoner said. “I would take him over anybody in the region. He’s got a good shot at making all-state.

“He was the anchor on the offensive and defensive line. He’s a leader, an extremely hard worker in the locker room.”

Also making the All-Region squad were sophomores Kobe Ford (RB) and Tarvaris Claiborne (LB), juniors Xavian Seay (OL), Noah Hrobsky (OL) and Houston Stafford (SS), and seniors Dustin O’Saile (OL) and Trace McGuire (WR). Freshmen Cameron Rankins (RB) and Mason Basford (OL) were named honorable mention members of the team, as was senior Isiah Harper (RB).

Claiborne is another potential all-state performer for the Yellow Jackets, having amassed 118 tackles, 10 for loss, two sacks, an interception and two forced fumbles. He also blocked two kicks on special teams.

Waggoner said he was excited about having such a strong nucleus to build around for the 2018 season, with nine of the 12 honorees returning.

“Our three seniors have been mainstays of the program and will be tough to replace,” Waggoner said. “But we have a lot of guys back and hopefully have a chance to improve and do a lot of things better.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Lady Jackets top Gordonsville for first victory

Trousdale County jumped into its district schedule last week and saw some of the best and some of the not-so-best talent the district has to offer.

On Tuesday night, the Lady Jackets built a 14-point halftime lead and went on to defeat Gordonsville 49-29 at home. It was the Lady Jackets’ third straight win over the Tigerettes (0-7), who are now riding a 36-game losing streak.

“Any time you beat Gordonsville and get a district win, it’s good,” said coach Jeremy Wilhelm. “We worked on some new things for late and saw what we need to adjust. I’m proud of our team.”

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Kaylynn Dalton puts up one of her four 3-pointers in Trousdale County’s win over Gordonsville.

Sophomore Chloe Donoho scored a game-high 16 points, with 10 of those coming at the free-throw line. Senior Kaylynn Dalton added 14 points, including four 3-pointers, sophomore Tori Simmons had eight, freshman Claire Belcher four and senior Katelyn Fergusson three. Sophomore Emily Booth and freshman Kinley Brown each had two points.

In the boys’ game, the Jackets went 9-of-19 from the line in a 55-46 loss to the Tigers (5-4).

“I thought we played with them pretty well,” coach Ryan Sleeper said. “In a close game in this district, you better hit your free throws or you will lose. They hit, we didn’t. It’s something we must continually work and improve on.”

Senior Braison Raney netted 16 points and junior Will Belcher was also in double figures with 10. Sophomore Kobe Ford added eight points and junior Keyvont Baines had five. Senior Trace McGuire had three points and senior Octavius Rickman and sophomore Tarvaris Claiborne each had two.

On Friday at Clarkrange, the Lady Jackets (1-5, 1-1 6-A) suffered a 91-26 loss to the Lady Buffaloes. Clarkrange raced out to a 14-0 lead and led 31-7 at the end of the first quarter.

The Lady Buffaloes hit 21 3-pointers as Hall of Fame coach Lamar Rogers upped his win total to 1,155.

“They are a really good ball club,” Wilhelm said. “We’ve got to learn from this and move on, because if you dwell on it, you’ll never move forward.”

Donoho led the Lady Jackets with 10 points and Fergusson had six. Simmons added four points, sophomore Josie Garrett three, freshman Bryanna Macias two and Belcher one.

The Jackets, meanwhile, scored the game’s first six points but fell behind 38-19 to the Buffaloes. Trousdale County would only get within 13 before falling 69-50.

“We started off too sluggish on offense,” Sleeper said. “This district is very competitive top to bottom. Our young men are going to have to learn you can’t get away playing hard only a half of three quarters.

“It’s going to take maximum effort all four quarters against every team. I value a loss just as much as a win, as long as you learn from what you did wrong and grow from there. Hopefully we did that.”

Raney led all scorers with 18 points and Baines had 13, 12 of which came in the second half. Ford scored five points, McGuire and Claiborne had four each, and Belcher, Rickman and senior Malkam Brinkley had two each.

Trousdale County played at Clay County on Tuesday and will host Monterey on Friday. The Yellow Jackets will then play in next week’s Sonic Shoot-out in Sparta.

Football Player of Week

Submitted photo

The Wilson Bank & Trust Player of the Week for Trousdale County High School football is Christian Stacey.

Selected by the Yellow Jacket coaching staff for his performance in the team’s Oct. 27 game against Jackson County, Stacey was presented with a commemorative printed football by WB&T Assistant Office Manager Seth Thurman.

Donoho scores 31 points for Jr. Lady Jackets in win

Kailen Donoho scored a game-high 31 points for the JSMS Jr. Lady Jackets in a 41-26 home victory over Gordonsville on Dec. 4.

Elyssa Chapman and Charlee Jo Dixon each added five points for the Jr. Lady Jackets.

The Jr. Jackets dropped their game 36-29. Bryson Claiborne had 12 points and Andrew Ford had six. Garrett Rieger scored five points, Jess Holder four and Thomas Brown two.

On Thursday, the Jr. Jackets went to Carthage and defeated Smith County 34-29.

Mason Maddox led the way with 10 points and Ford had eight. Rieger had six, Holder four, Claiborne four and Brown two.

The Jr. Lady Jackets fell 37-22 as Donoho scored 17 points. Autumn Parrish had two, Dixon two and Eliseona Satterfield one.

JSMS played at Westmoreland on Monday and will travel to Carroll-Oakland on Thursday.

Tilapia teeming in Old Hickory Lake

Fishing buddy Bob Sherborne and I puttered around a bend approaching the canal below the Gallatin Steam Plant and suddenly it looked like we had run into the Spanish Armada.

The mouth of the canal was clogged with boats – we counted 13, and a few more were anchored further up in the canal.

Word had spread: the tilapia were running. The parking lot at Flippers Marina where we launched was jammed, as more and more fishermen rolled in.

Not too long ago, most area fishermen probably had never seen a tilapia – a fish native to Asia and classified as an invasive species in Tennessee – much less caught one.

Photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net

That changed in 2010, when flooding along the Cumberland River washed tilapia from some stocked ponds into Old Hickory Lake.

Tilapia are extremely prolific, with monthly spawns of as many as 1,000 fry, and their population quickly exploded. Tilapia are now in the lake by the thousands, ranging in size from one inch to over nine pounds.

Among the anglers drawn to the Old Hickory tilapia explosion is Frank Fiss, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Chief of Fisheries. When I talked with Frank last week, he had made two tilapia trips and was planning another.

“There’s no question that it’s a popular fishery,” Frank said about Old Hickory’s overnight tilapia craze. “People enjoy catching them.”

The first time I heard about tilapia in Old Hickory was about four years ago, when Hendersonville fisherman Paul Neighbors emailed some photos of catches he was making.

Biologists initially believed the tilapia would die out since they theoretically can’t survive water temperatures below 58 degrees for a prolonged period. But recent winters have not only been milder than normal, the canal water below the Gallatin Steam Plant is considerably warmer.

That’s where the fish congregate when temperatures start to cool, stacked in by the thousands. Sherborne and I caught around 100 during our recent trip, with the biggest about two pounds. Since tilapia are a non-game species, there is no size limit or creel limit.

Tilapia have a mixed reputation. They received some negative exposure on an episode of the “Dirty Jobs” TV show when host Mike Rowe Rhodes showed how they are used to clean commercial fish tanks by eating the other fishes’ feces.

But tilapia are a valued food fish worldwide, including restaurants and markets in the U.S. When raised in clean water they are as edible as any other fish species.

Since they are fun to catch and good to eat, what’s the drawback?

“We don’t know if there is one,” Fiss says. “Generally we are concerned over the presence of any invasive species, but we haven’t done any studies on tilapia. It’s something we will keep an eye on if they continue to thrive in Old Hickory.”

Tilapia feed primarily on algae and other vegetation but will also eat worms and insects. That puts them in competition with native species such as bluegill, but so far there has been no adverse impact. Since they don’t feed on minnows, they don’t compete with crappie and bass. In fact, Fiss says, small tilapia could be a prime forage fish for bass.

Fiss says as far as he knows, Old Hickory Lake is the only water in the state in which tilapia are present, other than in stocked private ponds.

What the future holds – if the tilapia will eventually die out after a hard freeze, or if their population will continue to explode with adverse effects – is unknown. Right now all anyone knows for sure is that they are teeming in Old Hickory Lake, to the delight of flocks of fishermen.

Braison Raney reaches 1,000 career points

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Trousdale County’s Braison Raney (32) scored his 1,000th career point last week against Westmoreland.

Senior Braison Raney reached a magical number during Friday’s game at Westmoreland as he scored his 1,000th career point during the 55-42 win.

Raney hit a short jumper in the first quarter that got him to the mark. The game was temporarily stopped and an announcement was made to the crowd.

“We are extremely proud of Braison and all of his accomplishments,” said coach Ryan Sleeper. “He’s been working hard this year and has improved vastly in his work ethic and leadership.

“Our team celebrating with him was a special moment and we will work hard for more of those moments this season.”

Raney finished the game with 24 points, giving him 1,018 for his career. He scored 349 points as a freshman, 290 as a sophomore and 321 as a junior.

Yellow Jackets sweep games with Westmoreland

Trousdale County had two nights of basketball action last week, with both coming against Westmoreland.

The Yellow Jackets won both of their games to improve to 3-1 on the young season, while the Lady Jackets are continuing to struggle amidst an 0-4 start.

In the first game Tuesday, the Yellow Jackets built a double-digit lead in the second half, then saw that lead whittled to three points before holding on for a 50-45 home victory. The win snapped a 10-game losing streak for Trousdale County against Westmoreland.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Trousdale County’s Trace McGuire takes a charge against Westmoreland.

“Any win you can get against Westmoreland is a good win, especially when it’s been so long since we beat them,” said coach Ryan Sleeper.

Senior Braison Raney pumped in a game-high 18 points, while junior Will Belcher was also in double figures with 13. Junior Keyvont Baines had six points while seniors Trace McGuire and Octavius Rickman each had four. Junior Houston Stafford and sophomore Kobe Ford each had two points while freshman Alex Ford had one point.

In the girls’ game, the Lady Jackets led throughout the game before falling 27-26 on a basket in the closing seconds by Westmoreland junior center Sierra Bell.

The Lady Jackets got a shot off before the buzzer but it came up just short.

“We must do a better job of execution on offense,” coach Jeremy Wilhelm said. “We like some things we are doing defensively that we can improve on.”

Seniors Kaylynn Dalton and Katelyn Fergusson each had nine points, sophomore Chloe Donoho had four and the Lady Jackets got two points each from sophomore Tori Simmons and freshman Claire Belcher.

“These non-district games against bigger schools are making us better for our district which starts this week,” Wilhelm said.

On Friday at Westmoreland, the Jackets raced out to an 18-8 first-quarter lead and outscored the Eagles (0-6) 15-10 in the fourth quarter to come away with a 55-42 victory.

“It was good to see us improve in the second game against them,” Sleeper said. “This team is learning on the go and should steadily improve all year.

“Now we get to see what we’re really made of when district play starts up this week.”

It was the Jackets’ first win at Westmoreland since Feb. 3, 2009 and just the second road win over the Eagles since 2002.

Raney led all scorers with 24 points, going over 1,000 for his career during the first quarter.

Baines followed with 12 points and sophomore Tarvaris Claiborne had seven. McGuire added five points, Kobe Ford four and Belcher three.

The Lady Jackets, meanwhile, managed just five field goals in a 37-16 loss, the 32nd in a row against the Lady Eagles (3-3).

Dalton scored six points and freshman Morgan White had three. Donoho, Simmons and freshman Kinley Brown each had two points while Fergusson had one.

Trousdale County hosted Gordonsville on Tuesday to open district play, then will travel to Clarkrange on Friday and to Clay County next Tuesday.

Coyotes becoming all too common sight

I was deer hunting with Roy Denney on his Gladeville farm awhile back when I heard him shoot just after daylight. When we met up later in the morning he hadn’t bagged a buck – he had whacked a coyote.

On up in the day as I walked across a field on the back to Roy’s house, another coyote trotted out. I dispatched it with my muzzleloader.

A few days later I was hunting in another part of Wilson County with Clarence Dies when a coyote jogged across the food plot, disappeared into a hollow, and proceeded to yip and howl, doing its best to ruin my deer hunt.

Submitted photo
Coyotes can be somewhat controlled by hunting in rural areas, but not in the suburbs.

One the drive home I saw two more coyotes that had been killed on the highway.

In the Nashville suburbs where I live, coyotes are common sights. I saw three on the hillside behind our house one afternoon. They routinely trot up and down the street in broad daylight.

Since their migration into Tennessee from the Southwest began a couple of decades ago, the coyote population has grown steadily. And the more coyotes there are, the more problems they create.

Initially the biggest concern was coyotes’ toll on wildlife. They are super-predators and prey on anything they can catch. That includes newborn fawns and wild turkeys.

Wildlife experts initially claimed coyotes didn’t have much of an impact on fawns, but have since changed their minds. One survey found that coyotes killed at least 40 percent of newborn deer in a certain area – and possibly as many as 70 percent.

Coyotes also catch turkeys. I once saw one trotting across a field holding a freshly killed gobbler by the neck.

Granted, coyotes prey on nuisance species like mice and rats, but they exact a toll on small game as well. A hungry coyote is not a picky eater.

That’s why what used to be a wildlife problem has, in recent years, evolved into a suburban problem. If a coyote can’t catch a wild critter, it will settle for the family pet. Reports of cats and small dogs disappearing are becoming more frequent amid the coyote invasion.

What can be done about it? Not much.

In the wild, hunters are encouraged to shoot coyotes – I have killed eight over the years while deer hunting – and specialized varmint hunting is growing in popularity. Coyotes are a challenging quarry, and a prime pelt makes an attractive trophy. But coyotes are prolific, averaging five to seven pups per litter, and hunters can hardly put a dent in the population.

In the suburbs, where hunting is not permitted, the situation is even more out of control. Coyotes can roam at will without fear of humans, and parks and nature preserves represent a wild-game smorgasbord. When the wild game runs out, there are plenty of backyard pets nearby.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency advises not leaving pet food outdoors because it can attract coyotes, but that’s no real solution. It only makes the coyotes hungrier. Keeping pets indoors or fenced in will protect them, but not all pets enjoy that luxury.

Coyotes can be trapped, but it’s difficult because they are so cunning – especially when live traps are used, as required in residential areas. Most communities have animal-control units and professional wildlife removers who can sometimes remove a specific problem coyote. Problem is, there’s probably a dozen others waiting to take its place.

There is little evidence of coyotes attacking humans, but in the case of an unattended toddler it can’t be ruled out. The animals are becoming bolder as they lose their natural fear of humans – particularly non-threatening suburbanites.

Coyotes are here to stay – and so are the problems they cause.

Jr. Jackets earn pair of victories

Jim Satterfield Middle School played a pair of games last week, with the Jr. Jackets picking up two wins and the Jr. Lady Jackets suffering two losses.

The Jr. Jackets downed Smith County 35-16 at home on Nov. 28.

Garrett Rieger had a game-high 15 points and Andrew Ford followed with nine. Bryson Claiborne added five points while Alex Popeleski and Jess Holder each had two. Thomas Brown and Xavier Russell each had one point.

The Jr. Lady Jackets lose their game 36-28 to the Jr. Lady Owls.

Kailen Donoho paced the hosts with 18 points while Eliseona Satterfield had four, Charlee Jo Dixon four and Elyssa Chapman two.

On Nov. 20 at Red Boiling Springs, the Jr. Jackets won 42-22 behind 13 points from Claiborne and 11 from Ford. Rieger added seven points while Holder had five, Tyler Dixon four and Aden Johnson two.

The Jr. Lady Jackets fell 34-23 as Donoho collected 11 points, Dixon eight and Chapman four.

JSMS hosted Gordonsville on Monday, then will travel to Smith County on Thursday and Westmoreland on Monday.

Football Players of the Week

Submitted photos

The Wilson Bank & Trust Player of the Week for Trousdale County High School football is Kobe Ford. Selected by the Yellow Jacket coaching staff for his performance in the team’s Oct. 6 game against Whitwell, Ford was presented with a commemorative printed football by WB&T Assistant Office Manager Seth Thurman.

The Wilson Bank & Trust Player of the Week for Trousdale County High School football is Dustin O’Saile. Selected by the Yellow Jacket coaching staff for his performance in the team’s Oct. 13 game against Cascade, O’Saile was presented with a commemorative printed football by WB&T Assistant Office Manager Seth Thurman.

Yellow Jackets lose home opener to Gallatin

Trousdale County had one night of basketball action last week, suffering a pair of home losses to Gallatin.

The Lady Jackets (0-2) held a 31-30 lead in the third quarter before eventually falling 56-43.

“We must do a better job on possessions and cut down on our turnovers,” said coach Jeremy Wilhelm. “The girls never stop battling and never give up. That’s good for our young team.”

Sophomore Chloe Donoho finished with a game-high 18 points, 13 of which came in the second half. Classmate Tori Simmons had her best night as a Lady Jacket, adding 15 points. Freshmen Kinley Brown, Claire Belcher and Sidney Gregory contributed four, three and two points respectively while senior Katelyn Fergusson had one.

In the boys’ game, the Jackets (1-1) fell behind 14-4 in the first quarter and went on to lose 69-48 to the Green Wave.

“I loved the effort from us on the defensive end,” said coach Ryan Sleeper. “The game was closer than what the end score shows.

“Offensively, we are still trying to find our rhythm and chemistry. We missed eight lay-ups in the first half. We hit those, who knows how the game ends up.”

Junior Will Belcher and senior Braison Raney paced the Jackets with 11 and 10 points respectively. Senior Trace McGuire and junior Keyvont Baines each added eight points, while sophomore Kobe Ford had seven points off the bench. Senior Octavius Rickman and junior Houston Stafford added two points each.

“We will keep working and progressing every day,” Sleeper said. “We’ll get there.”

Trousdale County hosted Westmoreland on Tuesday, then travels to Westmoreland on Friday. The Jackets will open district play next Tuesday at home against Gordonsville.

Middle school: JSMS will travel to Red Boiling Springs on Thursday before hosting Gordonsville on Monday.

Game wardens can be hard to reach

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency continues to crack down on poaching by imposing huge fines – thousands of dollars in some big-game cases – but at times the public is frustrated in its attempts to report violations.

Many if not most residents have no idea how to contact their local game warden to report a poaching incident, and some who try are often frustrated by the process.

The TWRA’s Hunting and Fishing guidebook (available for free at most outdoors outlets) lists a number for reporting hunting/fishing violations in each its four regions. In Region II, which encompasses Middle Tennessee, the number is: 1-800-255-8972.

TWRA game wardens and other officials are available to the public for assistance.

The problem with the so-called Poaching Hotline is that it is not manned around the clock.

For example, if someone calls late at night to report a suspected deer poacher, chances are they will get a recording: “Leave a message with your name, number and other information and we’ll get back to you.”

Obviously by then the poacher will be long gone.

A TWRA spokesperson, asked about the efficiency of the system, says callers should not be discouraged. She says every call that comes in will eventually be listened to and the information acted on.

When a call is received – either live or on the recording – an Agency official will contact the game warden in the area in which the violation is reported and pass along the information. The warden then contacts the person who placed the call and collects as much information and evidence as possible.

Even if the poacher is not immediately apprehended, the warden will file away the information for future reference: for example, a possible description of the poacher’s vehicle and the general area in which he operates.

The same procedure applies for reporting nuisance wildlife. Call the TWRA, give the information, and it will be acted on as deemed appropriate. (In the case of coyotes, the animals have become so abundant that the Agency is unable to respond to most complaints.)

If a wild animal presents a threat or concern that requires immediate attention, local law-enforcement authorities should be contacted.

TWRA regulations require trappers to put tags on otter and bobcat pelts before they can be sold. The tags are provided by the local game warden. But to contact the warden, unless the trapper knows him personally, he has to go through the Agency.

Obtaining the trapping tags, like reporting poachers or nuisance wildlife, can be a time-consuming, cumbersome process.

Some suggest publishing the name and contact number for every game warden in every county – perhaps listing them in the Hunting and Fishing guide books – to make them readily available to the public.

The drawback to publishing wardens’ phone numbers is that it would be open to abuse; someone with a grudge could make harassing calls to a warden’s home at all hours.

Wilson County’s game warden is Tanner Romsdale. Trousdale County’s is Ethan Davis. I’ve interviewed Romsdale and, like every other TWRA warden I’ve talked with over the years, he is dedicated to his job and eager to serve. I’m convinced that once a warden receives information about a complaint, they will act on it.

The TWRA assures the public it will get the information to him.

Football Player of the Week


The Wilson Bank & Trust Player of the Week for Trousdale County High School football is Houston Stafford.

Selected by the Yellow Jacket coaching staff for his performance in the team’s Sept. 29 game against East Robertson, Stafford was presented with a commemorative printed football by WB&T Assistant Office Manager Seth Thurman.

Yellow Jackets down Smith County in basketball opener

Trousdale County started its 2017-18 basketball season at Smith County on Nov. 14, returning from Carthage with a split of the two games.

The Yellow Jackets raced out to a 14-4 first-quarter lead and went on to win 56-40 over the Owls, who were shorthanded because of a number of players also on the football team.

“I thought it was great for our guys to start the year with a win,” said first-year coach Ryan Sleeper. “But it also showed we have plenty to work on.”

Amanda Gregory / For The Vidette
Trousdale County’s Kobe Ford (2) fights for a rebound with Gallatin’s Larodre Clark (34) during Monday’s game.

Junior Keyvont Baines paced the Jackets with 14 points while junior Will Belcher was also in double figures with 12 as the Jackets broke a seven-game losing streak against Smith County.

Senior Trace McGuire added nine point, sophomore Tarvaris Claiborne eight and senior Braison Raney six points along with seven rebounds. Freshman Alex Ford had three points while senior Octavius Rickman and sophomore Kobe Ford each had two.

“We must become more disciplined and get in better shape,” Sleeper said. “Our schedule only gets tougher, but we are excited for the challenge.”

In the girls’ game, sophomore Chloe Donoho poured in a career-high 18 points in a losing effort as the Lady Jackets fell 42-33.

Trousdale County led 29-26 late in the third quarter but was outscored 16-4 the remainder of the way. It was the Lady Jackets’ sixth consecutive loss to the Lady Owls.

“We did some things good, but we have a lot to improve on; it’s a young team,” said coach Jeremy Wilhelm. “They go hard and want to do the things we ask. We played a lot of young kids and this will make us deeper and better as the season continues.”

Senior Kaylynn Dalton followed with six points before leaving the game with a shoulder injury during the second half.

Senior Katelyn Fergusson added five points while sophomore Tori Simmons and freshman Kinley Brown each had two points.

Trousdale County hosted Gallatin and Monday night and will travel to Westmoreland next Tuesday.

Buzzards do nature’s dirty work

When someone calls you an “old buzzard,” it’s generally not intended to be a compliment.

But maybe it should be.

We’d be in a mess – literally – without them. Buzzards are nature’s sanitation workers.

Imagine what boat ramps, docks and shorelines would be like if buzzards didn’t clean up the dead fish that float in Tennessee waters or the trash fish sometimes discarded by bow fishermen. In the heat of the summer, some of the docks would be virtually unusable if not for the feathered clean-up crews. The same goes for road-kill alongside highways.

Buzzards are nature’s sanitation workers.

Buzzards were in the news awhile back when a farmer complained that they were preying on freshly born calves. It’s possible, although some biologists theorize that vultures feed only on calves that were already dead.

In Tennessee it is illegal to kill buzzards, although an exception is made if they are harming livestock or otherwise causing problems. If someone, for whatever reason, wants to whack a buzzard it would be a good idea to first plead the case to the local TWRA officer just to be sure.

Other than the calf controversy, I’m not aware of any problems caused by buzzards. They are fascinating birds, once you get past their indelicate diets.

Speaking of which, the bald eagle – our national symbol – is as much a scavenger as a buzzard. During fishing trips to the Canadian wilderness, we would dump our fish scraps away from camp on an isolated little spot christened “Gut Island.” Flocks of bald eagles constantly swooped around, feasting on the rancid fish heads and entrails.

About the only difference between an eagle and a buzzard is that the eagle gets better press coverage.

As a kid, I recall my uncles debating whether buzzards are attracted to carrion by sight or smell.

One of my uncles claimed it was by smell. He said he once hauled off a dead cow and buried it beneath a brush pile he intended to burn later. A flock of buzzards quickly located the cow and descended on the carcass, even though it couldn’t possibly have been seen from the sky.

My other uncle was pro-sight, pointing out that buzzards frequently circle injured animals that are not yet dead and therefore don’t emit a carrion odor. Like the old prospectors in Western movies who crawled across a parched desert and saw the grim shadow of buzzards circling overhead.

Wildlife biologists say my pro-smell uncle was correct: buzzards find their way to the buffet table by picking up scent molecules wafting in the air. Their sense of smell is so acute that they can detect a dead possum from miles away.

I was reminded of the benefits of buzzards last spring when some bow fishermen dumped a pile of dead carp at the boat ramp at Long Hunter State Park. The stench of the rotting carp was almost unbearable.

But thanks to a flock of buzzards the carp didn’t last long. A clean-up crew swooped in and tidied up the man-made mess within 48 hours. It was greatly appreciated by fishermen and other boaters who used the ramp and dock.

Being a buzzard is a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.

JSMS has tough week on basketball court

Jim Satterfield Middle School had two nights of basketball action last week but came way with just one win.

That victory came on Nov. 16 at Jackson County as the Jr. Lady Jackets won 32-29. Kailen Donoho had a game-high 25 points, while Charlee Jo Dixon had four and Eliseona Satterfield three.

Later that night, the Jr. Jackets fell 40-24 to the Jr. Blue Devils.

Andrew Ford netted seven points and Mason Maddox five, while Thomas Brown and Bryson Claiborne each had four. Jess Holder added two points, Garrett Rieger one and Alex Popeleski one.

JSMS had a rough night at Celina on Nov. 13 with each team losing by double digits.

The Jr. Lady Jackets fell 48-14 with Donoho scoring seven points, Satterfield five and Elyssa Chapman two.

The Jr. Jackets scored just one point in the first quarter of a 64-37 loss.

Maddox pitched in 14 points and Claiborne had nine. Rieger had six, Ford four, Tyler Dixon two and Brown two.

Yellow Jackets’ playoff run ends vs. Marion County

Trousdale County’s playoff run came to an end Friday night with a 32-14 home loss to Marion County in the second round.

The loss was just the seventh on the Creekbank during a state-record run of 30 consecutive playoff appearances by the Yellow Jackets, who finished the season at 8-4.

“It was a tough night for us,” said coach Brad Waggoner. “The turnovers really hurt us getting anything going on offense and we got hurt on the edge on defense.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Marion County recovers a fumble on Trousdale County’s first offensive play Friday. The Yellow Jackets had six turnovers in a 32-14 loss that ended the season.

“You have to give Marion County credit for doing what they had to do to win the game.”

Trousdale County won the coin toss and deferred its decision until the second half.

Marion County (7-5) received the opening kick and needed only five plays to reach the end zone. Senior Jacob Saylors, who was named a Mr. Football finalist on Monday, ran 46 yards down the visitors’ sideline to put the Warriors up 7-0.

On Trousdale’s first offensive play, the Jackets lost a fumble to give Marion possession at the 27-yard line.

The Yellow Jacket defense made a stand, allowing one first down and forcing a 27-yard field goal attempt that was blocked by senior Trace McGuire.

Marion County would extend the lead to 14-0 with 2:20 left in the first quarter when senior Kane Hale stretched across the goal line after catching a 19-yard pass from junior quarterback Isaiah Sampson.

The Jackets tried to get back in the game with their best drive of the night, going 10 plays down the field and capping the drive with a 4-yard pass from junior Keyvont Baines to sophomore Tarvaris Claiborne. Baines’ kick cut the deficit to 14-7.

Trousdale County’s next turnover came after a long run down the sideline by senior Isiah Harper, who fumbled after having the ball punched out by a trailing Marion defender. The Warriors would then drive for a 6-yard scoring run by Saylors. Claiborne blocked the extra point, but the Jackets were left trailing 20-7 at halftime.

Trousdale took the second-half kickoff and went three and out before punting. The Warriors then put together a seven-play drive that was capped by Brett Nelson’s 7-yard touchdown run. A two-point try was stuffed by the Jackets, who now trailed 26-7 with 7:39 left in the third quarter.

Trousdale attempted to come back as Harper found the end zone from 17 yards out on the Jackets’ next possession. The score was the 28th of Harper’s career and cut the deficit to 26-14.

Marion’s final score came early in the fourth quarter as Sampson carried the ball three yards for a touchdown. Another two-point try failed but left the score at 32-14, where it would stand.

Saylors finished with 22 carries for 235 yards and two touchdowns.

Baines finished with 136 yards on 13 carries for the Jackets, putting him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Harper added 75 yards and a score on eight carries.

The Jackets committed a season-high six turnovers, losing three fumbles and with Baines throwing three interceptions.

Seven seniors, who played for three different coaches, finished their careers on the Creekbank. They are Logan Calhoun, Austin Demonbreum, Harper, McGuire, Dustin O’Saile, Braison Raney and Christian Stacey.

“While I’m disappointed for these seniors because it was their last game as a Yellow Jacket, I am really looking forward to getting started on 2018 with the team we have returning,” Waggoner said. “I told these guys to remember everything about that moment Friday night.

“We will work and do what it takes to get back to that moment next year and we will be ready for it. We had a lot of young guys get a lot of quality reps this season and I am excited for the future of Jackets football.”

Armadillo becoming common sight in Tennessee

The other day a neighbor who knows I’m a hunter called with an odd request. He asked if I would come over and shoot three armadillos that were rooting around in his backyard.

I explained that I couldn’t do it, due to a local ordinance against discharging firearms inside the city limits.

He asked what he could do about the armor-plated, prehistoric-looking creatures, which had his wife scared to go outside. I told him what we’re all being told by our wildlife professionals: learn to live with them.

A squashed armadillo has become a common sight on Tennessee highways.

The little football-sized critters are here, and probably here to stay. A few years ago armadillos joined the migration of coyotes (and perhaps cougars) from the Southwest, and quickly became common sights in Middle Tennessee.

Their Tennessee invasion occurred virtually overnight.

I saw my first armadillo some 40 years ago on the side of the road during a family drive through Florida. It was such an unusual slight – a shell-covered, long-nosed, bristly animal lying on its back, claw-tipped paws pointed skyward – that we pulled over to take a closer look.

In ensuing years on our annual Florida trip we started seeing armadillos plastered on roads across Georgia, each year getting closer and closer to Tennessee.

The first one I saw in the state was about 12 years ago in Hardin County. A couple of buddies and I were headed home after dark from a deer hunt and one darted across the back-road in the headlights. We heard a thump under the truck – the armadillo version of Taps – and stopped to check it out.

The armadillo had tumbled into a ditch. One of my buddies walked over and nudged it with his toe. The armadillo, evidently just dazed, sprang up and went for the leg of his britches. My buddy fended it off with a drop-kick.

Armadillos are not aggressive – this one was probably just addled and confused and wasn’t actually attacking. However, they are known to sometimes carry leprosy bacteria and it is advisable not to mess with them.

The only harm armadillos do – other than scaring the daylights out of you when you step on one in the dark – is digging holes. They subsist on worms and grubs, which means they are constantly digging. They can tear up a lawn, garden or golf course, and their den burrows present hazards to livestock.

A friend in Giles County claims the armadillos that invaded his farm a few years dig into mounds of fire ants – another invasive species – and eat the larva. He says he’ll take the armadillos over fire ants.

Armadillos have no natural enemies. They rank at the bottom of the food chain for predators, who find them hard to kill and apparently not very tasty.

Since they eat mostly grubs, they are almost impossible to trap.

In Tennessee armadillos can be dispatched year-round without limit. But they are primarily nocturnal – my neighbor’s recent visitors being exceptions – and therefore difficult to hunt.

Most nuisance species, such as coyotes, can be trapped and hunted, and their population controlled to some extent. That’s not the case with armadillos. Their only major enemy is the automobile.

It looks like Tennessee’s “possums on the half-shell” are here to stay.

JSMS has busy week of basketball action

Jim Satterfield Middle School had a busy week of action on the basketball court last week with three nights of games.

On Nov. 6, the Jr. Jackets hosted Mt. Juliet Christian and came away with a pair of victories.

Kailen Donoho paced the Jr. Lady Jackets with 13 points in their 34-23 win. Elyssa Chapman added nine points and Eliseana Satterfield had eight. Miranda Kibler and Charlee Jo Dixon rounded out the scoring with two apiece.

The Jr. Jackets won their game 43-35 as Bryson Claiborne, Andrew Ford and Garrett Rieger were all in double figures with 13, 12 and 10 points respectively. Mason Maddox and Xavier Russell each added four points.

The next day, JSMS traveled to Gordonsville but lost both games.

The Jr. Lady Jackets fell 25-16 as Donoho had nine points, Chapman three, Satterfield three and Dixon one.

The Jr. Jackets lost 32-28, getting 10 points from Claiborne and Rieger while Jess Holder and Maddox each had four.

On Nov. 9, JSMS split a pair of home games with Westmoreland.

Donoho had 16 points for the Jr. Lady Jackets but it wasn’t enough in a 26-24 loss. Chapman added four points, Satterfield two and Anna Beth Martin two.

In the boys’ game, the Jr. Jackets captured a 43-28 victory.

Ford and Claiborne each scored 10 points while Rieger had seven, Maddox five, Holder four and A.J. Adams two.

JSMS will travel to Jackson County on Thursday.

High school: Trousdale County opened its 2017-18 season Tuesday evening at Smith County.

The girls lost 42-33 after leading in the third quarter. Chloe Donoho led the Lady Jackets with 18 points.

The boys won 56-40 with Keyvont Baines scoring 14 points and Will Belcher 12.

The Jackets will have their first home games on Monday against Gallatin, with girls action beginning at 6 p.m.

Turnovers doom Yellow Jackets in loss to Marion County

Six turnovers doomed any chance Trousdale County had Friday night in a 32-14 loss to Marion County in the second round of the playoffs.

The Warriors (7-5) set the stage early as Mr. Football semifinalist Jacob Saylors scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 46-yard scamper down the visitors’ sideline for an early 7-0 lead. Saylors would finish with 235 yards on 22 carries for the Warriors.

Photos by Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Marion County’s Jacob Saylors (8) breaks up a pass in the end zone intended for Trousdale County’s Tarvaris Claiborne (7) during Friday’s game. Marion defeated Trousdale 32-14 to reach the Class 2A quarterfinals.

The Yellow Jackets (8-4) fumbled the ball away on their first offensive play, giving Marion County great field position. While a field goal attempt was blocked, the momentum was clearly on Marion County’s side.

“We made too many mistakes to beat a good team like that. Take your hats off to them,” said Trousdale coach Brad Waggoner.

“When it comes to the second round of the playoffs, it comes down to turnovers, penalties, things like that,” said Marion coach Joey Mathis. “It’s usually the difference in two equally matched teams.”

The Warriors would extend the lead to 14-0 late in the first quarter when Kane Hale stretched across the goal line after hauling in a 19-yard pass from Isiah Sampson.

Trousdale County got on the board early in the second quarter when Tarvaris Claiborne collected a 4-yard pass from Keyvont Baines on fourth down to cut the lead to 14-7. Isiah Harper appeared poised to put the Yellow Jackets in position to tie the game with a long run down the sideline on the team’s next possession, but a trailing Marion defender punched the ball loose and the Warriors recovered the fumble.

The Warriors would convert that into another touchdown to take a 20-7 lead into the locker room.

Marion County’s Kane Hale (18) goes to recover a Trousdale County fumble on the Yellow Jackets’ first offensive play of Friday’s playoff game. Marion County forced six turnovers in a 32-14 victory.

“We put ourselves in a big hole and we can’t do things like that,” Waggoner said. “(Isiah) was trying to make a great play and probably should have trusted his speed, but the guy did a great job of getting down there and swinging the game.”

Trousdale County got the ball to start the second half but another turnover set the Warriors up again with good field position. A quick touchdown made it 26-7 and put the Yellow Jackets into a hole they could not crawl back from.

Baines led Trousdale County with 136 rushing yards on 13 carries and also threw for 112 yards and a score. Baines also threw three interceptions.

Marion County will travel to Chattanooga Tyner next Friday in the 2A quarterfinals. The two teams met earlier this season, with Tyner claiming a 37-28 win.

“Hats off to Trousdale County,” Mathis said. “Coach Waggoner’s got a tremendous team. We know what it means to come here and get a win over a respected program like Trousdale.”

Trousdale County, which won Region 4-2A this year, will return the bulk of its lineup in 2018.

“We’ve got to learn to finish,” Waggoner said. “We have a large number of kids coming back next year. I want them to learn from this game tonight.

“In order to get where we want to, we’re going to have to beat those guys next year.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.