Over the past couple weeks, we have broken down the best coaching jobs, best teams, best athletes and most memorable games of the 2014-15 season in our weekly 15 for 15 series.
Now for the next three weeks we will take a moment to look forward. The 2015-16 sports season is quickly approaching, so we will look at the top rising senior, juniors and sophomores moving forward.
We will begin this week with the top seniors. Who in West Tennessee is ready to leave his or her mark on a program in the final season of their high school career?
1Emmit Gooden (Haywood football) — Gooden will be the focal point of the Haywood defense this season. His size and quickness makes him hard to block.
Listed as 6-foot-3, 275 pounds, Gooden has been well recruited by SEC schools. His top five in no particular order are Tennessee, Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
He’s listed on 247Sports.com as the No. 14 defensive end prospect in the country and the No. 4 prospect in the state of Tennessee for the 2016 class. He’s listed on Haywood’s site on MaxPreps.com as finishing the season with 55 tackles, 22 for loss and 5.5 sacks.
Quarterbacks in Region 7-4A will have to know where Gooden is at all times.
2Amelia Grizzell (Jackson Christian girls’ soccer) — Grizzell already holds the record for goals in a season and career along with assists in a season and a career. She had 45 goals and 24 assists.
Being a two-time All-West Tennessee Girls’ Soccer Offensive Player of the Year, Grizzell will again try to take her game to the next level.
Jackson Christian reached the Class A-AA semifinals for the first time in program history last season, and the Lady Eagles will look to get back to that level.
Grizzell has a knack for scoring, but her preference is to aid her teammates in scoring with an assist.
Grizzell is a Harding University commit.
3Aly Walker (South Gibson Softball) — Walker is a two-time All-West Tennessee Softball Hitter of the Year after hitting over .500 during the past two seasons. She batted .517 last season with 10 doubles, three triples and eight home runs to go along with 26 RBI and 39 runs.
Walker along with the other rising seniors have taken the South Gibson softball program to new heights with a District 13-AA championship and Class AA state tournament appearance last season.
Walker will again be a focal point in South Gibson’s batting order and a strong presence in centerfield.
Walker is a UT Chattanooga commit.
4Gabby Morris (Adamsville softball) — Morris was named The Jackson Sun’s 2015 Softball Pitcher of the Year after recording 222 strikeouts with a 12-6 record and a 1.48 ERA.
After leading the Cardinals to a top four finish in the Class A state tournament, Morris will want more for her softball team this upcoming season.
Her ability to locate her pitches where she wants them makes her one of the tougher pitchers to face in West Tennessee.
Morris is dangerous in the batters’ box also after batting .474 last season with 18 doubles, 22 RBI and 37 runs scored.
Morris is a Union commit.
5Kaitlyn Martin (South Gibson softball) — Martin has been named to the All-West Tennessee first team for the last two seasons.
Martin picked up 16 wins this past season for the Lady Hornets with a 2.84 ERA and 174 strikeouts.
Having played in big games in her first two years, Martin played with a calm demeanor as a junior, and that helped South Gibson beat some of the tougher teams on its schedule like Lexington and Dyersburg.
Martin is also key in the batting order with a .444 average last season with 11 home runs, 27 RBI and 37 runs scored.
Martin is a University of Tennessee commit.
6Andrew Goldsmith (TCA football) — Goldsmith will be looked at heavily to lead the Lions this season after the group that graduated last year.
He will be looked at to help move the ball up the field offensively, but he is also one of the top linebackers in the area entering this season.
He leans on his quickness to elude tacklers on offense, but the quickness also helps him to shut down the opposing team’s rushing attack.
Goldsmith has received a few coach and scout visits already this summer from various teams including Vanderbilt, Samford and Memphis. Army, Air Force and Navy have each offered him a scholarship.
7Cal Gobbell (Hardin County football) — Gobbell has committed to play baseball at Tennessee following his senior year, but he has proven that he can be just as dangerous on the football field.
As a dual-threat quarterback, opposing teams struggle to contain him. He was one of two area quarterbacks last season to surpass 1,000 yards each in passing and rushing.
He was named the 2014 All-West Tennessee Junior of the Year.
Hardin County steps up the competition this season by joining Region 7-4A, so his ability under center will be crucial to the Tigers’ success on the field.
8Ally McFarland (USJ softball) — McFarland is one of the top Division II-A pitchers in the state and a two-time All-West Tennessee first-teamer.
She finished the 2015 season with a 22-5 record with a 1.77 ERA and 155 strikeouts.
USJ got a tough draw in the Division II-A sub-state round despite winning the region crown, and that resulted in the Lady Bruins falling one win short of a bid into the state tournament.
McFarland will look to get the Bruins back to Murfreesboro and into the state semifinals.
She has helped keep the tradition of elite pitchers at USJ going.
9Tariqious Tisdale (Lexington football) — Tisdale has played a big part of the winning tradition at Lexington over the last couple of seasons.
He has put in the work during the offseason, and it is showing with his increased muscle mass since the end of basketball season in March.
Tisdale is a defensive lineman that has received three SEC offers from Tennessee, Ole Miss and Mississippi State and is committed to the Rebels.
He has a large frame, but uses his quickness to get around the block and into the backfield to disrupt other teams’ offense.
10Parker Davis (Adamsville softball) — Davis forms the second half of the dangerous pitching duo at Adamsville along with Gabby Morris.
Davis was named to the 2015 All-West Tennessee first team.
She had a 12-6 record with 169 strikeouts and a 1.41 ERA this past season in the pitchers’ circle. She also batted .455 with eight doubles, 35 RBI and 19 runs scored.
Davis brings a different pitching dynamic than Morris, which keeps teams from practicing on one or the other.
She also played a significant part in Adamsville’s run to the top four of the Class A state tournament.
11Chavis Fuller (North Side boys’ basketball) — Fuller was named to the All-West Tennessee boys’ basketball first team in 2015 after averaging 17.8 points and 12.4 rebounds.
He has a strong presence in the post, but he has the ability to move around and create shots underneath.
He has been a leader for the Indians the past couple of season, and now he is hoping to get North Side farther than the past couple years and into the Region 8-AA semifinals.
12Clayton Hughes (USJ boys’ basketball) — Hughes has one of biggest potentials going into the 2015-16 boys’ basketball season.
If he can stay healthy, Hughes could lead the Bruins back to the sub-state round of the postseason.
Last season, he averaged 16.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 steals. He is ranked by Future150 as the No. 17 small forward in the country and the No. 7 recruit in Tennessee in the Class of 2016.
He has offers from Ole Miss, Liberty, Middle Tennessee State University, Murray State, Rhode Island, South Alabama and Western Kentucky.
13Deshawn Brown (Camden football) — Brown was named to the All-West Tennessee offensive first team in football after surpassing 2,400 yards rushing last season.
Brown has quickness and agility that makes him tough to tackle.
If Camden is going to continue to build off last season’s success, Brown is going to play a big part with his ability to score.
14Addison Dunn (USJ girls’ soccer/softball) — Dunn is one of those special players with pure athletic abilities, and that has shown through her career at USJ on the softball and soccer field.
She has the ability to excel at either sport equally, and she was named to the All-West Tennessee first team in each during the 2014-15 season.
In softball, Dunn batted .532 with 27 stolen bases, 28 RBI and five triples. In soccer, she had 25 goals and 16 assists.
The softball team has a large senior class returning that she plays a big part in. The soccer team lost three of its top players, so Dunn’s role will be crucial to success.
15Morgan Martin (Bradford girls’ basketball) — Martin has been a central part of the Lady Red Devils’ success since her freshman year.
She was named All-West Tennessee Newcomer of the Year as a freshman and to the first team as a sophomore and junior.
She averaged 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists as a junior.
Improving Bradford to a contender in District 14-A has been the goal, and the Lady Red Devils could show that this season.
Michael Odom, 425-9754