Who would have ever thought that a song about high school football would wind up near the top of the country music charts?
The two (high school football and country music) don’t have anything in common, do they?
Kenny Chesney’s Top 10 hit “The Boys of Fall” continues to climb the charts but has also made an incredible impression on not only those who play the game today, but those who played the game decades ago.
Casey Beathard, who co-authored the song with Dave Turnbull, grew up around the game. His father is Bobby Beathard, a former general manager of four different NFL teams.
It was a song Casey wrote from the heart.
Casey’s son, C. J., is the junior quarterback at Battle Ground Academy in Franklin.
BGA is one of two Tennessee teams featured in the song’s music video. The other is the Gibbs Eagles, Kenny Chesney’s alma mater.
Beathard, who played collegiately at Elon University, said he has two passions – song writing and football. While coaching a youth league team in Williamson County nearly two years ago, a player’s dad told him how excited he was about the start of a new football season.
“He said he missed the boys of fall,” Beathard told me last week. “I knew exactly what he was talking about. That phrase stayed in my mind for 18 months before Dave (Turnbull) and I had a conversation one day about the good old days, the smell of freshly cut grass and high school football.
“The song ended up being one of those things that God drops in your lap,” Beathard continued.
Tim Johnson, last year’s head coach at BGA and now headmaster of a private school in Little Rock, is one of the coaches featured in the music video. He told me last week he was in awe when he first saw the finished product.
“Kenny had a real passion for this project and the importance that high school football plays in the lives of young men,” said Johnson, a former player at Lincoln County and Vanderbilt in the ’80s.
“I can’t tell you how many moms have come up to me and said that by the end of the video they are in tears,” Johnson said. “It cuts to the meaning of what it (high school football) really should be about,” he said.
Chesney, a starting wide receiver at Gibbs (a Knoxville suburb) in the mid-’80s, has talked openly about how high school football and the music industry are alike.
“It’s no different if you’re playing football, if you’re on the road like I am, if you’re running a company,” he was recently quoted as saying.
“Everybody’s got to work together if they want to achieve something that’s special,” Chesney added.
Murphy Fair has published Tennessee High School Football for the past 23 years. His website (murphyfair.com) gives high school fans further insight into the prep football scene.