Driving 101: The Best Rule Of All

For the past several weeks, I have been written about various driving rules and laws that many people ignore.  I am not one that will say I am perfect in my driving habits.  I get impatient like everyone else and I will take shortcuts and get angry with other drivers.  While living in Nashville, I have found that most people out there basically will do whatever they want to do.  Forget the rules.  Ignore the fact that Nashville is supposed to be the “friendliest city in the United States” which I wonder if the ones who ranked it had to drive in the traffic.

Having been stuck in traffic, frustrated by those who disregard the right-of-way rules and impatience of others who do whatever they want, I can tell you that the best rule of all that should be followed can be summed up in this:


Simple.  The lines and signs are put on the roads for a reason.  Instruments are on our vehicles for a purpose in traveling on the public roadways.

  • Do what you are supposed to do…..USE YOUR TURN SIGNAL.
  • Do what you are supposed to do…..YIELD TO TRAFFIC WHEN YOU HAVE A YIELD SIGN.
  • Do what you are supposed to do…..TAKE YOUR TURN AT THE 4-WAY STOP.
  • Do what you are supposed to do…..YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS.
  • Do what you are supposed to do….PULL OVER AND STOP FOR EMERGENCY VEHICLES.
  • Do what you are supposed to do….STOP WHEN YOU HAVE THE RED LIGHT.
  • Do what you are supposed to do….SLOW DOWN WHEN IT IS RAINING.

I am sure there are others you can add to this list but these are the most common things I see everyday driving in and around the Music City.  I have lived in three cities over the past ten years and each one had their own issues.   In Macon, Georgia, drivers were notorious for tailgating,  in Tampa, Florida, they were impatient and in Nashville, they do whatever they want to do.    I guess it’s that country/renegade/rebel mentality.

I don’t know what’s happening with the “25-year plan” we heard about to improve traffic in Nashville but the fact is that Nashville is growing rapidly and the currently infrastructure for traffic is going to be a growing problem.   Instead of golf carts scampering around town or other non-standard forms of transportation, the city really needs a good plan for moving around the city.  There are too many cars and not enough space for them all.

In the meantime, drivers need to just simply do what they are supposed to do.






Seattle (Penalty) Kicks Their Way To The Title

The Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer (MLS) captured their first MLS Cup title Saturday with a grueling win over Toronto FC in Toronto.  After Justin Morrow’s penalty kick attempt hit the underside of the crossbar on Toronto’s sixth attempt, Seattle’s Roman Torres booted the cup winner past Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin.

Seattle won the title in spite of only registering three shots on goal in the game and in extra-time.  Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei came back to haunt his former team.  Frei kept the Sounders with a tremendous save in extra time on Toronto’s best shot.

The championship game was the latest ever in MLS history.  The cold weather in Toronto did not deter a record capacity crowd of 36,045 at BMO Field although most went home disappointed in the outcome.

The Sounders were near the bottom of the league standings in mid-July but rallied to become the 11th team in league history to win the cup.  Seattle defeated Sporting Kansas City, FC Dallas and Colorado in the playoffs to get to the MLS cup.  They entered the league in 2009 as the third Sounders team to play professional soccer in Seattle.    


I will admit that I am not an avid soccer fan.  I watch it occasionally but I tuned in for the end of this game since it was the championship game.  I watched both teams battle through an exhausting and physical overtime period.  Then I watched it go to penalty kicks which created another level of drama but I felt like it cheapened it some.  I have never liked games going to this method of determining a winner.  I thought about it and came up with a few suggestions to settle ties:

  • Replace penalty kicks with corner kicks.  Teams would get alternating corner kicks until a goal is scored.  After a corner kick, the ball would be in play until the defending team could clear the ball out of the box.  This would still engage the entire team instead of a one-on-one contest with the goalkeeper.
  • If the game is still tied after extra-time, the team with the most shots on goal in the overtime period would be the winner.  This would encourage shots being taken.
  • Even go back to the old North American Soccer League (NASL) shootout.  This method was a much better competition between shooter and goalkeeper.  The offensive player gets the ball at the 35 yard line and five seconds to score.  The goalkeeper does not have to remain on his goal line but can come out to challenge the offensive player.

Georgia High School Football Review: State Champions Crowned


The last Georgia High School Association (GHSA) state championship games were played in the Georgia Dome over the weekend.  Two teams repeated as state champions (Cartersville and Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy) and two teams (Rome and Cedar Grove) won their first title in school history.

Here is a recap of what happened:

Class 7A – Grayson 23, Roswell 20 (ot)

Roswell led until 1:04 left  when Grayson quarterback Chase Brice connected with Jaquavius Lane for a 35-yard touchdown pass.  They made a two-point conversion to take a 20-13 lead.  Roswell drove down the field and with five seconds left, Malik Willis hit Kentrell Barber on a 20-yard pass and the extra point sent the game into overtime.  On Grayson’s first possession of the overtime, they scored on a 25-yard field goal by Will VanPamelen.  Roswell was unable to answer the Grayson score as they missed on a field goal attempt giving Grayson the first Class 7A title and their second overall.

Class 6A -Valdosta 17, Tucker 7

It was back-to-the-future as the Valdosta Wildcats finally won their first state title since 1998 as the Wildcats built a 17-0 lead at halftime and held on to beat Tucker.  The Wildcats’ defense frustrated Tucker’s comeback attempt.  After Tucker scored with 2:30 left in the third quarter, the Tigers could not get in the end zone the rest of the way.  The win for Valdosta is their 25th title in school history.

Class 5A – Rome 16, Buford 7

In the “battle of wolves” as we heard all game long from the announcers, Rome overcame an early 7-0 deficit just minutes into the game when Buford’s Anthony Grant returned the opening kickoff 95 yards which set up a 1-yard touchdown run by T.D. Roof.  After that score, the Rome defense took over to hold Buford scoreless the rest of the game.  Knox Kadum scored on a 28-yard run in the third quarter to give Rome their first lead in the game.  The win give Rome their first state title in school history.

Class 4A -Cartersville 58, Thomson 7

Carterville’s Trey Creamer scored to first quarter touchdowns along with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Lawrence to open the second quarter as the Purple Hurricanes cruised to a convincing win.   Cartersville repeated as state champions and back-to-back 15-0 seasons.

Class 3A – Cedar Grove 30, Greater Atlanta Christian 19

The tone for this game was set early when Greater Atlanta Christian quarterback Davis Mills was taken out from a forearm of a Cedar Grove defender on the first drive of the game.  Surprisingly there was no penalty or ejection for the hit.  Mills never returned.  Cedar Grove took a 23-3 lead before the end of the half but GAC stormed back in the fourth to close the lead to 23-19 on a 32-yard field goal by Sean Henderson.  Cedar Grove delivered the final blow scored on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jelani Woods to Dennis Bell with 2:16 left for their first state title.

Class 2A – Benedictine 49, Fitzgerald 26

Fitzgerald scored first on a 36-yard touchdown run by J.D. King to take the early lead but Benedictine scored the next 35 points to take a 35-6 lead in the second quarter.  The Purple Hurricanes mounted a comeback in the third quarter as they closed the gap to 35-26, but the Cadets answered with a 7-yard run by Tyleek Collins then the defense closed it out with a 43-yard interception return for a score with 1:36 left.

Class 1A (Public) – Macon County 35, McIntosh County Academy 0

Macon County outgained McIntosh County Academy 346-159 in total yardage and forced four fumbles in the game.  A 21-point fourth quarter put the game away as Macon County quarterback K’Hari Lane had four touchdown passes in the game which broke Huston Mason’s record of 54 touchdown passes in a season.

Class 1A (Private) – Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy 34, Fellowship Christian 24 (ot)

Josh Mays scored on a 1-yard run to give ELCA the lead in overtime.  On fourth down, Fellowship Christian’s Jack Hardin was forced out of the pocket and unable to complete the pass which gave the Chargers their second consecutive state title.  Fellowship Christian had taken the lead when Merrick Haigler scored with 2:08 left but the Chargers drove down the field and set up Alex Usry with a 34-yard field goal with six second left to send the game into overtime.



Friday Flashback: Georgia Dome hosting State Championships (2008)


This weekend is the last time Georgia high school football state championships will be played in the Georgia Dome.  The dome has hosted the championship games in all classifications since 2008.  Prior to that season, semifinal games were played in the dome and championship games were played at the host school.

Personally I have never been a fan of playing the championship games in the dome.  I have always felt that the games lost a little of their magic taking it away from the communities that have supported their teams the entire season.  The only state championship game I attended at the Georgia Dome was when Clinch County defeated Savannah Christian in 2010.

In the first title games played in the dome in 2008, the results were:

  • Wesleyan 33, Emanuel County Institute 21
  • Buford 45, Calhoun 21
  • Cairo 28, Flowery Branch 14
  • Tucker 15, Marist 3
  • Camden County 21, Peachtree Ridge 14

There were five classifications in 2008.  Today there are eight with a new classification (7A) added this season.

Like the 2008 games, both Buford and Tucker are playing for state titles this season.   Grayson coach Jeff Herron was the coach for Camden County in 2008.

The games may move to the new Mercedes Benz Stadium next season but no plans have been finalized.  If the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) is intent on playing the championship games at a centrally-located, neutral site, they should consider Mercer University’s football stadium in Macon, Georgia.

When the final game has been played and the lights go out in the Georgia Dome, eight state champions will be crowned and in the end it will not matter where they played the game.



Christmas Lights at Sunnyside


Driving around to look at Christmas lights is something most everyone likes to do this time of year.  There are some creative and spectacular displays in Middle Tennessee, but one that should be on you to-see list are located 1956 Sunnyside Drive in Brentwood.   Bill Minneci is in his 34th year of putting on the display which not only covers his front yard but also several other neighboring houses as well.   The display features over 135,000 lights and more than 300 lighted figures.

Minneci and his son, BJ, started the display in 1982 with BJ always saying that they needed more lights.  That they did and it has grown into a fabulous display it has become today.   After BJ was tragically killed in an automobile accident in 1993, Minneci continued the display in BJ’s memory.

The display is nicely situation at the end of the street in a cul-de-sac where you can park and walk the long drive to see the display.  The display is free but there is a donation box for the Shriner’s Hospital.  They collected over $8,000 last year.  Minneci does not make any money to pay for the lights.  He says it is his gift to the community and to the children.  He will often greet you along side Snow, his Samoyed dog.   Santa will also make a visit the week before Christmas giving out candy canes.

Planning for the next year’s display begins the day he takes down the lights.  He begins putting the displays together in September as he checks all the lights and re-tapes the displays.  He puts the lights out in November three weeks before Thanksgiving when he turns them on for the public.

Next year will be Minneci’s last year for the lights and this year is the last year he will be doing eight houses.  Next year it will only be the two main houses which generally account for about 70 percent  of the lights and figures.

If you are in the Middle Tennessee area during the holidays, add a stop to see BJ’s Christmas Lights on Sunnyside.

Lights are on every night until December 31st.


Scars Behind The Pulpit


It was a year ago today that my mother passed away.  I know it’s a cliché but it’s hard to believe that she’s gone.

My mother had a lot of scars.  They were scars you couldn’t see on the outside.

She grew up as a preacher’s kid along with her other five sisters.  (She is pictured above in the lower right)  She used to tell the story of how she never wanted to marry a preacher yet in twist of fate she ended up being married to one and spent many years being the preacher’s wife.  Of course, that made me a preacher’s kid when I came along.

Being a preacher’s wife is not the glamorous life for many.  It’s a life where you have to put on a face and live the way your are EXPECTED to live.  Everything you do is magnified, especially the negative.  My mother endured at many churches.   If you think being the first-lady of a church is filled with people who are the true model of Christians, think again.  There are many good people but there are many others who judge the preacher’s wife unfairly or discover that she is human with her own flaws, quirks and pains.

Being “ON” every service is not the easiest thing to do.  Preacher’s wives will be watched all the time and you are expected to be everything to everyone.  It would surprise you the things people do and say.  My mother took it all.  She heard the criticisms of my father and me from others as well.  As you know, it’s hard enough to be criticized but when people criticize the ones you love it’s even more difficult.

Yet you’re supposed to keep the smile on your face…..even if you suffer from migraine headaches.  My mother suffered a lot with those headaches and church members were mostly unsympathetic about her pain since it was “just” a headache or even that she wasn’t healed.  Yet, they would often complain about the slightest ailment and expect to be coddled.  The empathy for pain never seemed to work both ways.

In thinking about my mother’s life, I think the breaking point came in June 1989 when her father died.  She was never the same after that.  In addition to her headaches, her heart broke.  I will never know fully what she went through.   Our relationship suffered too.  Several times she told me how sad she was and how she wish she could just die to be with her daddy.  I believed that pain was a dark cloud over her the rest of her life.

I never desired to become a preacher myself although many people tried to call me.   I saw too much on how it was more than just preaching a sermon behind a pulpit every Sunday morning.  A preacher’s calling affects the entire family.

A year ago when I read on Facebook that my mother had passed away.  I hated every church member that ever mistreated her and the scar it left inside of her and how it affected the rest of her life.  I cursed the cult that we were associated with and glad that I was no longer a part of it.  I talked to God a lot during these days last year.  As the days passed, I began to think of how her pain has now turned to gain for where she is now.  No more physical pain and the scars in her heart are healed by the master physician.

A preacher’s wife is not the carbon copy of the mother of Jesus.   She is human and at times, she’s not going to feel like putting on the face.   Cut her some slack.  Don’t be so mean.  If you can’t say something encouraging then don’t say anything at all.  She has feelings just like you do.  You have no idea if she is at a breaking point or what she is dealing with inside.

If you are considering marrying a preacher – especially pastor of a church – consider it very carefully.   While it is a noble and honorable desire to support someone you love in the ministry, you need to be aware of these:

  • Prepare for criticism.
  • You will be watched all the time.
  • Believe it or not, there are some really mean people who claim to be Christians.
  • Your husband will need you to be his cheerleader much more than in most any other profession.
  • Create a safe place for you and your family.
  • Don’t neglect your own time with God.

If you are already a preacher’s wife, I would say for you to be strong and stay the course.  Never, ever compromise on being yourself.  Understand that you will never make everyone happy.  Also keep in mind that other people’s opinion of you is not as important as God’s opinion of you.  Be quick to forgive and let things go.

I hope that the words to this song is true for my mother today:

“So, I’ll cherish the old rugged Cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down.  I will cling to the old rugged Cross.  And exchange it some day for a crown.”







Georgia High School Football Review: Semifinals


The state semifinals produced some expected and unexpected results as teams played for a spot in the state championship games in the Georgia Dome next weekend.

In Class 7A it was expected that Roswell and Grayson would advance and they both did by big margins.  Roswell eliminated Westlake 28-0 and Grayson took care of Mill Creek 44-26.  So the state title game sets up Roswell and Grayson who are no strangers there.  Roswell is back for the second consecutive year and last won it all in 2006.  Grayson won it in 2011.

The teams are 1-1 against each other with Grayson winning 24-14 in the 2009 playoffs.  Roswell beat Grayson 30-26 in last year’s semifinal round.

Milton’s Pick:  Grayson 42, Roswell 21

In Class 6A, Northside-Warner Robins and Tucker didn’t play one of their classic nail-biting games of the past in their series.  Northside did jump out to a 7-0 lead on Tucker but turnovers doomed the Eagles as Tucker returned a fumble 44 yard for a touchdown in the third quarter as Tucker won 22-7.  Valdosta’s defense held Dalton’s Ahmaad Turner to 57 yards rushing and took advantage of two muffed punts in the game to lead the Wildcats to a 27-6 win.

Tucker is in the state finals for the fourth time in eight years and looking for their first championship since 2011.  Valdosta is back in the final for the first time since 2003.  They last won it all in 1998.   Valdosta and Tucker have never played.

Milton’s Pick:  Valdosta 20, Tucker 16

The Class 5A semifinals turned out as expected as Buford once again showed their dominance in the semifinals as they defeated Kell 28-16 as Christian Tucker scored on a 3-yard run with 2:11 left to seal the win for the Wolves.  Buford is now in the state finals for the 10th straight season.  Rome defeated Stockbridge in the other semifinal game, 28-21 to play in their first state title game since the school opened in 1992.  Rome was created from a merger of East and West Rome high schools.

Buford and Rome have never met.  Rome enters the game with a 12-2 record.  Their two losses were to Harrison (22-20) and Kell (33-30) which started their season at 1-2.   Buford is 13-1.  They lost their season opener to Roswell 24-7.

Milton’s Pick:  As painful as this may be for me…..Buford 35, Rome 14  (This will be the battle of the Wolves)

In Class 4A, Cartersville and their all-world quarterback Trevor Lawrence dispatched Mary Persons (never liked that school name) 38-17.  Lawrence passed for 253 yards and four touchdowns.  Thomson beat Jefferson 27-6.

Cartersville is the defending state champions.  Thomson is in the state championship game for the first time since 2002.   In their only meeting, Cartersville defeated Thomson 21-13 in the 2012 Quarterfinals.

Milton’s Pick:  Cartersville 33, Thomson 14

The results in Class 3A were a little unexpected for me.  Both Peach County and Crisp County had been dominant teams during the season but Peach County could not solve Greater Atlanta Christian’s defense until the final two minutes as the Spartans hung on to defeat the Trojans 13-7.  Cedar Grove completely destroyed Crisp County 55-0.  The Saints jumped out to a 41-0 lead at halftime.   Cedar Grove’s win in Cordele was the largest margin of victory by a visiting team in the state playoffs.

Cedar Grove is in the state finals for the first time since 1991.  Greater Atlanta Christian advances to their third state final and seeking their first title.   Cedar Grove and Greater Atlanta Christian have never played.   They both played a common opponent in 2016 when they each played Westminster of Atlanta.  Greater Atlanta Christian won 19-16 in overtime on August 26th.  Cedar Grove lost to Westminster, 42-21 on September 23rd but haven’t lost a game since and haven’t allowed more than 21 points since the loss.

Milton’s Pick:  Cedar Grove 41, Greater Atlanta Christian 17

The Class 2A semifinals happened as expected with Benedictine knocking off Callaway 49-10 and Fitzgerald defeated Hapeville Charter 42-21 to advance to the state 2A title game.

Benedictine is in the state finals for the second time in school history.  They won it in 2014.  Fitzgerald is playing in their fifth championship game and seeking their first title since 1948.   The teams have met twice with Benedictine winning 51-7 in the 2013 playoffs.  Fitzgerald defeated Benedictine 54-28 in the state quarterfinals last season.

Milton’s Pick:  Fitzgerald 27, Benedictine 24  (overtime?)

It was totally unexpected in Class 1A  (public) that Clinch County lost at home to McIntosh County Academy 24-8.  Valentin Salazar made a 37-yard field goal in the first quarter to give the Buccaneers a 10-8 and they kept the Panthers out-of-synch the rest of the game for their first win in the semifinals.  Macon County dominated Emanuel County Institute for a 48-26 win.

McIntosh County Academy is playing in its first state title game.  Macon County is in the final for the first time since 1996.  The teams have never met.   Macon County has scored over 40 points in 10 games this season.  McIntosh County Academy’s coach, Robby Robinson, is 140-79-1 in 19 seasons of coaching.

Milton’s Pick:  Macon County 20, McIntosh County Academy 8

In the Class 1A (private) semifinals, Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy broke open a tight game in the third quarter and eliminated Tattnall 42-21.  Fellowship Christian had a 25-7 lead at halftime and hung on to defeat Prince Avenue Christian 31-28.

Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy is in the state final for the fourth time in five years.  They are the defending state champions from last season.  Fellowship Christian is in their first state championship game.   ELCA is 3-1 all-time in the series and won the last meeting 47-7 in 2009.

Milton’s Pick:  Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy 40, Fellowship Christian 12

Championship game fun facts:

  • The Wolves will win the Class 5A championship as both teams are known as the Wolves.
  • Purple Hurricanes will be blowing in the dome when Cartersville and Fitzgerald take the field.
  • Bulldogs will be barking for Thomson and Macon County
  • What’s a “Paladin”?  I guess we will find out when Fellowship Christian plays ELCA.
  • This will be the last time the games will be played in the Georgia Dome.  They are expected to move to the new Merceds-Benz Stadium in 2017 but nothing has been finalized.

All eight state championship games will be played in the Georgia Dome on Friday and Saturday.   They will be shown on Georgia Public Television and online at GPB.org.