The Gold Ball has returned to MNPS, brought home by a tough and determined bunch of Firebirds.
Pearl-Cohn High School won the TSSAA state football championship in Class 4A Saturday, defeating Upperman 36-27 on a wet day in Chattanooga. Pearl-Cohn is the first MNPS school to win a state championship in football since Hillsboro in 2008.
“The Firebirds were the very best of Class 4A this season, and I couldn’t be prouder of their work ethic, teamwork, sportsmanship, and tremendous skill on the field,” Director of Schools Dr. Adrienne Battle said. “Congratulations to Coach Tony Brunetti, his coaching staff, all the players, Principal Miriam Harrington, the faculty and staff, families, and everyone else who played a part in this championship season.”
The Firebirds, who finished the season 15-0 and won the state title for the first time since 1997, celebrated when they returned to campus late Saturday afternoon and again with the entire student body, faculty, and staff at the end of the school day Monday.
Captain Zeion Simpson-Smith, who was named the BlueCross Bowl MVP after running for 181 yards, introduced his teammates and coaches and then held the ‘gold ball’ high in the air as the players and cheerleaders cheered and danced around him. Longtime Pearl-Cohn Coach Tony Brunetti, the winningest coach in MNPS history, praised the team’s drive and determination throughout the year.
The school also played congratulatory videos from Director of Schools Dr. Adrienne Battle; Mayor Freddie O’Connell; former Pearl-Cohn and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn; and other former Firebirds players and Nashville athletes.
MNPS’s East Nashville Magnet High School also made it to the final game this year before falling to Alcoa on Friday in Class 3A. MNPS was the only district in the state with two teams playing for championships.