The Nashville Elite have made a name for themselves over the past few years by reaching the Middle Tennessee Football League Championship Game twice, but this year has the potential to be special for the up-and-coming organization.
So far in 2019, the Elite have outscored opponents 144-0 and are sitting pretty in first place in the league, while being ranked in the South Atlantic Top 20.
“Honestly, it is absolutely the changes I made in the coaching staff,” Elite owner Tahnesia Richmond told Developmental Football USA. “After we lost the championship game last year when we shouldn’t have – we went to the championship game two years in a row and lost both times – our issue was that we needed more coaches and more experienced coaches, so that was what we did during the off-season.”
Things began to change when Andre Bean stepped in as the new head coach.
“My first impression on the roster was that they were very talented but undisciplined,” Bean told Developmental Football USA. “They were winning off of talent alone and had not been properly coached. As a staff, we knew if we focused on structure, discipline and teaching fundamentals, the rest would handle itself. The proof is in the results, we are 5-0, scored 144 points and have yet to give up any points.”
The defense is led by defensive coordinator Cedrick Wilson, who has attributed his unit’s success to the players’ ability to buy in.
“They’ve taken on the coaches’ mentality of playing fast, physical and out of their mind,” Wilson told Developmental Football USA. “They are playing for each other.”
The quality of coaching this team gets on both sides of the football is certainly well above and beyond what the average team at this level experiences.
“The keys to our success have been establishing a coaching staff that played the position they coach,” Bean said. “Our entire coaching staff has college football and some professional experience. It’s rare in this day and age that coaches are taking the time to teach at the level the skills needed to be successful. We focus on the small details and this has helped with the way they are producing on the field. There is a system and structure in place and they trust our football IQ.”
One of the keys defensively for the Elite has been veteran defensive tackle Accente Hill.
“Accente is a very talented, aggressive defensive tackle, but his attitude has prevented him from truly being better than he can be,” Bean said. “As a coaching staff, we took him out and told him we depended on him, but would need all the excess antics to be cut out. I’m proud to say he has not gotten any personal flags or been thrown out of any games this year. Why would I mention that? Because in past years, he has been thrown out of all the games. This is growth and maturity.”
Hill is one of the two most improved players for the Elite, according to Bean. The other is defensive back Ladarius Goodman.
“During one of our first workouts, he told me he played corner,” Bean said. “During the drills, I noticed that his hips were tight which was causing him to open up and turn slow. I told him that in my system, there was no way he would play corner for me and moved him to safety. Each day, he worked and worked and before the opening of the season, he was named the starting corner. He never said a word, just took in all the coaching and showed me that he indeed was a corner and a corner that could play in my style of defense.”
Another key piece to the puzzle this year for the Elite has been the return of Keon Bohannon.
“He was on the team the first year we had the team, then he came back this year to play for me,” Richmond said.
“We also have a couple of guys that are new to our team that have stepped up. Chris Stinson is one of our leaders on the offensive line, he’s been playing semipro for many, many years. I think he told me he’s on season 19 or something. He’s come forth with some leadership for us. Then a young man by the name of Kenneth Jones, he’s a young man that’s been around that’s trying to step up into more of a leadership role.”
Although the Elite are playing very well, they were challenged earlier in the season by the Nashville Raiders, which are currently the second place team in the league. The Elite escaped that one with a 6-0 win.
The four teams with the best records of the six-team league will begin playoffs later this month. This weekend, the Elite will close out the regular season with a game against the winless Upper Cumberland Bears.
“The biggest thing for me this year is that we have spent pretty much four years trying to build a team and build a brand and the only thing we are missing is that championship,” Richmond said, “That’s the only thing we are missing and we are really focused on making this the year for that championship.
“We have sent guys to arena teams, to college teams, and overseas, but that championship is that one thing we are missing so that’s why it’s so important to bring it home this year. And, if we can do it and not have anybody score on us, that’s even better. Our defense is heading that way, we’ll see, but we want to try to keep it that way.”