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Tullahoma City Schools (TCS) exist to provide challenging and innovative experiences that support each student's academic, social, and emotional development, preparing them to live with integrity and a sustained passion for learning.
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In its first-ever Blue Cross Bowl State Title Game, Tullahoma was the team left standing in a heavyweight fight on the gridiron, leaving Chattanooga with a 21-14 double-overtime victory over Elizabethton in Saturday’s Class 4A matchup.
The Wildcats landed the final blow in this heavyweight battle after they scored to take the lead in the first half of the double-overtime period. On second-and-goal from the 10-yard line, Elizabethton quarterback Bryson Rollins looked to connect with Jake Roberts on a pass attempt. Tullahoma’s Krys Uselton was able to jump the route and snagged the game-sealing interception to seal the Class 4A Championship for the Wildcats.
“It’s amazing. To be a champion, it’s the best feeling in the world,” Uselton said. “In the first overtime, they ran it with 10 [Rollins] a lot, so we went into that second overtime to try to stop the run. I knew that I was going to get the matchup against Roberts, and I was ready for it.”
Tullahoma capped off its first undefeated season with a 15-0 record and stopped the Fighting Cyclones from winning their third-straight state title. After 29 seasons at the helm of the Wildcats, John Olive captured his first-ever state championship.
“When you’re my age, you really think that you’re not going to win a state championship,” Olive said. “Fortunately for me, we had an outstanding team this year. Really for the last two years, these teams have played really well. I’m very fortunate that we won this game in overtime.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Tullahoma put up the contest’s first points 47 seconds into the second period. On a quarterback keeper, Ryan Scott held on to the football and scored from 8 yards away. Justus Chadwick, who was perfect on his extra-point attempts, booted in the PAT to put the Wildcats in front 7-0.
Elizabethton answered back and tied the contest with 4:31 remaining in the first half. Rollins connected with Roberts for a 3-yard touchdown, and the teams headed into halftime deadlocked at 7.
Neither team could get back on the scoreboard during the remainder of regulation. However, Tullahoma did have an opportunity late in the fourth quarter after marching down to the Elizabethton 2-yard line.
On fourth-and-goal, the Wildcats elected to go for the touchdown rather than kick the field goal. Scott held on to the football on a quarterback sneak but was short of the end zone with 2:29 left on the clock. According to Olive, he and his staff went into Saturday’s matchup with the game plan to be aggressive. However, after failing to score, he said he had his second guesses.
“I really thought that I had cost us a state championship by not kicking a field goal there, to be honest with you,” Olive said. “I’m very fortunate that our young men bailed me out.”
Tullahoma’s defense forced Elizabethton to punt one final time, as the Wildcats attempted to win in regulation. With three seconds remaining, Scott took off running before lateralling the ball to Uselton. From there, Uselton was able to churn out yards, tight-roping the sideline, before falling at the Fighting Cyclones’ 11-yard line as the clock expired.
Elizabethon opened the first overtime with ball possession, starting at the Wildcats’ 10-yard line. Three plays later, Rollins scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Fighting Cyclones a 14-7 advantage.
Just one play into its offensive possession, Tullahoma tied the contest. KeiShawn Cummings broke free for a 10-yard touchdown run as the teams headed into the second overtime even at 14.
The Wildcats struggled to move the ball on the first two plays of the second overtime. However, on third down, Scott found Dixon in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown to put Tullahoma in front 21-14.
Elizabethton’s first play of the second overtime was bottled up as Rollins was stopped for no-gain. After being held to no yardage, the Fighting Cyclones attempted to pass, that’s when Uselton intercepted Rollins, and the Tullahoma bench and crowd exploded in celebration.
Following the victory, Olive was emotional and thankful that Uselton had come out to play football his senior season. Uselton has been a standout for the Wildcats on the basketball court, and Olive knew he could be a special football player.
“We had tried to recruit him for three years, and we couldn’t get him to put that roundball down,” Olive said. “I am so thankful that he put that roundball down. He became a huge contributor to this football team and obviously had the huge interception to bring that gold ball back to Tullahoma.”
According to Uselton, his basketball teammates had tried to convince him to play football for the Wildcats. In his final year at Tullahoma, he agreed to give the gridiron a go.
“My teammates kept asking me and told me that I needed to play,” Uselton said. “I figured it was my senior year, so I said, ‘Why not? Let’s go and try and win a championship.’ A lot of the game came to me naturally, but my coaches and teammates have also been giving me advice and have continued to push me. They are the reason that I am the player that I am today.”
While Uselton made the game-winning play, Scott was named the Class 4A Championship’s Most Valuable Player. The senior quarterback completed 12 of his 16 pass attempts for 124 yards and a touchdown while also being intercepted once. Scott also ran for 88 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
Elizabethton had 300 yards of offense during Saturday’s contest, the majority of which came from their quarterback. Rollins passed for 131 yards and a touchdown, while he also ran for 140 yards and a score.
“Trying to tackle Rollins is like tackling a rock,” Olive said. “He is a gritty football player. Our defense is what kept us in the game.”
The last two seasons had been historic for the Wildcats as they combined for a 27-1 record. According to Olive, his players only cared about winning, which allowed Tullahoma to succeed on the field.
“For the last three years, this has been a complete joyride, particularly the last two years with these seniors,” Olive said. “They are absolutely outstanding, the most fun group to be around and the most talented group of kids. They have been an absolute blast to be around. What made this team special was that they discovered what team chemistry is all about. They weren’t worried about who got credit or the glory. Throughout our playoff run, it’s been different players who have made plays, and that’s what has made this team so awesome.”
As one of Tullahoma’s more vocal leaders, Ian Poe said he knew that his team would capture the state title. The senior lineman said he’s proud of his teammates now that the goal has been achieved.
“It feels awesome,” Poe said. “As Coach Olive says, we are a unique bunch. Everybody doubted us all season, and we took that to heart, and we pulled through. Everybody just thought it was our lucky year. We were set on making a statement and following it the whole way through, and that’s exactly what we did.”
The Little Cats Learning Academy officially opened its doors in July 2020 and provides loving care for children of the Tullahoma City School District, providing care for infants as young as 6 weeks up to 36 months.
Little Cats Learning Academy is licensed by the Tennessee Department of Education. The childcare center fosters nurturing and developmentally appropriate experiences based on the foundation of early childhood development.
The staff at Little Cats Learning Academy is highly trained and plans activities according to the Tennessee Early Learning Development Standards. The academy consistently works to learn more about child development and increase its knowledge and skillset to provide an excellent learning environment.
The vision and commitment to parents are to first, embrace, nurture and love each child daily. The Little Cats Learning Academy additionally provides developmentally appropriate learning experiences for children each day. The academy incorporates aspects of constructivism and the Reggio Emilia philosophy, emphasizing hands-on learning, children being active participants, responsive planning and teaching, and a social moral atmosphere.
Little Cats Learning Academy also provides devoted attention to the individual needs of the child’s feedings, changing, pottying, and learning experiences. Additionally, the Little Cats Learning Academy staff consistently communicate a child’s activities and experiences throughout the day to their parents. Each day, parents can expect informal and formal communication from their child’s teacher so that the staff can best serve their child and family.
Tullahoma City Schools enjoys serving our littlest cats!
Tullahoma Board of Education Chairman Kim Uselton received a high honor recently as she was named to the Tennessee School Boards Association’s All Tennessee School Board.
During its annual convention in Nashville, the TSBA named four individuals to this year’s All Tennessee School Board. The announcement that Uselton was selected to the state school board came during an awards ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 20.
“I was very proud to be nominated for the award, but to actually be recognized as a 2021 All School Board recipient is very special to me,” Uselton said. “I am incredibly passionate about public education; particularly, Tullahoma City Schools. The true honor for me is having the opportunity to serve our community as a board member and to work with outstanding school leaders, phenomenal educators and the very best students.”
Members of the All Tennessee School Board are selected by a panel of judges based on certain criteria. To be considered, nominees must have achieved Level IV in the TSBA Boardsmanship Award Program. Additionally, they must have had quality service in the previous 12 months. Nominees also needed to participate in board development activities in the last 12 months and have specific accomplishments of the local board of education during their term on the board. Lastly, those individuals considered for the state school board award had to be involved in leadership activities at the local, regional or state level.
“This award is probably the greatest state-wide award that a school board member can receive,” said TCS Board Member Pat Welsh. “Kim is an absolutel tireless worker who always has the best interest of students in her mind. To me, she is extremely deserving of this award. There were only four nominations this year, so she is considered one of the state’s top four school board members. That speaks high volumes to her character.”
TCS Director of Schools, Dr. Catherine Stephens, echoed Welsh’s sentiments. In her two years in Tullahoma, Dr. Stephens said she’s been blessed to work alongside Uselton.
“Her love of education and her commitment and loyalty to Tullahoma City Schools is unsurpassed,” Dr. Stephens said. “Partnering with her on the important work of educating our children will go down as one of the most energizing and rewarding experiences of my career. I’m extremely thankful for the work that she and the rest of the Tullahoma City School Board of Education put in to help our students and our community.”
Joining Uselton on the All Tennessee School Board is Fayetteville’s Mark Clark, Crockett County’s John Cole and Clarksville-Montgomery County’s Jimmie Garland. Clark was additionally chosen as the 2021 Tennessee School Board Member of the Year/C. Hal Henard Distinguished Service Award Winner. With that honor, Clark will serve as Chairman of the All Tennessee School Board.
Tullahoma City Schools is dedicated to providing a curriculum that is marked by academic excellence, innovation, and creativity. By offering a dynamic, personalized education experience, we assist students in becoming life-long learners and being college and career ready.
Our school is known for our talented teachers and signature programs. Visit each school to gain more insight as to what makes our district truly unique.
Tullahoma City Schools is committed to providing an environment focused on the needs of our students and families.
After input from staff, parents, community members and students, the BOE has identified Facilities, Virtual programs, and School to Work Pathways as top priorities.
As TCS continues to look at data regarding COVID-19, we will be utilizing a daily-updated dashboard that supplies our community with updated statistics for the eight campuses.