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Forever a ‘Blazer: Danny Good looks back

By Trey Williams

Daniel Boone athletic director Danny Good won an Arby’s Classic title playing for Bobby Snyder and was part of an eight-win Ken Green-coached football team that beat Dobyns-Bennett and Tennessee High, and he’s spent the past decade passionate about maintaining high standards for Trailblazers athletics.

Good gets ready for another season of Daniel Boone basketball. (Photos contributed)

Concluding a decade at the wheel while essentially in neutral due to the coronavirus pandemic having canceled spring sports, Good has time these days to reflect with pride and gratitude.

Boone has won 18 district championships, 18 conference titles, 10 regional championships, two state team titles and produced five individual state champs since he took over prior to the 2010-11 school year. There have also been seven regional runner-ups and three state runner-ups.

The girls basketball program secured its first Class AAA state tournament berth thanks to the likes of Macie Culbertson (Belmont) and Sydney Pearce (Carson-Newman). Charlie Cole (Army) ran wild while leading the Trailblazers to a win at Science Hill in 2018 and a regional title in 2017 and helped the ‘Blazers win three of four Musket Bowls against a David Crockett senior class that included Cade Larkins (East Tennessee State) and Donta Hackler (Tusculum).

Due to assistant coach Bill Wagner getting called away for his job, Good coached first base for Rick Wagner during the softball team’s state runner-up run in 2012. Good’s daughter Meredith was on the team, which included players such as Andrea Rogers and Jennine Duncan. Boone lost its opening game against Soddy Daisy before winning six straight, including one against Soddy Daisy, to force an if-necessary game.

Soddy Daisy pitcher Kelsey Nunley, who went on to lead Kentucky to the College World Series, got the last word. But Boone’s run through the loser’s bracket spoke volumes.

“Fortunately, my daughter was on that team and I’d coached a lot of those girls in travel ball and had good relationships with them,” Good said. “Every day we’d go to the stadium and we’ve got our bags packed, because if we lose we’re going home. And every night we’d win I’ve gotta go find us eight hotel rooms. That was a memorable week that I got to spend with Rick, which is my cousin, and my daughter. So that was really special.

“Andrea Rogers, when the ball came off the bat when she hit it, it sounded different. Kellie Waycaster was a pitcher. She would not just blow it by you. She could put it where she wanted to when she needed to. And then you’ve got Duncan, (Jessie) Wheelock, (Kayla) Sanders, (Natalie) Sheffey – it was just a really good group.”

Rick Wagner, a multi-sport standout at Boone that played baseball at ETSU for Charley Lodes, is one of Good’s 27 first cousins, and was No. 1 in his heart when Good was an avid Trailblazers fan as a child in the ‘70s.

“I wore his number (23) in school,” Good said. “He was a great role model.”

Jeremy Jenkins’ football team was the last Region 1-5A team standing this season despite being without its top two backs entering the season – Cole and Devon White – for much of the year. White and reigning 1,000-yard rusher Brennan Blair are rising seniors on a roster that’ll have Trailblazers fans excited this fall. (Good is confident the coronavirus won’t wipe out fall sports and perhaps won’t even abbreviate those seasons.)

Good and and Jeremy Jenkins, head coach for Daniel Boone football, shake hands with the game ball. Danny Good has been a key player at Boone since the ‘70s. According to his father, he says, he has only missed four games since 1971.

Of course, Boone fans always expect good things from Jenkins, the state’s dean of 5A coaches and son of Boone icon Jerry Jenkins. Jeremy played for Green, too.

“Jeremy is a hard-nosed guy, and when his kids buy into what he’s selling and play the way he wants them to play, they’re as tough an opponent as there is in this area,” Good said. “He’s gonna win up front with his line on both sides of the ball. He ain’t gonna gamble a whole lot. And he’s always gonna have a good, strong back that’s gonna be able to rush for a thousand yards a year. And the defense is not gonna give up the big play very much. …

“In three years he’s been the regional champion and the regional runner-up twice. And we were within a touchdown on either one of them of being the regional champion three years in a row.”

Boone was an independent for three seasons from the time Good was a sophomore to a senior while transitioning from the Inter-Mountain Athletic Conference to the Big Ten Conference.

“My senior year in football we were 8-3,” Good said. “We had wins that year against Dobyns-Bennett and Tennessee High – and South. That was the first time we’d beat them (Sullivan South). And we won the Musket Bowl. We didn’t play Johnson City (Science Hill).

“Chris Deaderick was our quarterback, just a hard-nosed, tough guy. Mike Cox may be one of the best athletes to ever play at Boone. He was just an athlete. He played wide receiver up until his senior year and then they moved him to running back, and he gained over a thousand yards that year. Hal Ferguson and Matthew Ferguson, two cousins of mine, were on that team. Chad Cox was on it. We were a junior/senior-heavy team that year that just clicked.”

Good might have attended more Daniel Boone football games than anyone since the program began in 1971.

“Since 1971 my dad tells me I’ve only missed four football games at Daniel Boone High School,” Good said. “I don’t know that. That’s what he tells me. The original goal post that was there, my dad and George Holly built. They welded them. My parents were supportive of the programs even when we weren’t playing.”

Good’s mother Linda and her husband Jimmy Westmoreland continue to be supportive, capturing many moments with excellent photography.

Good’s father Larry played for Bobby Snyder’s first basketball team in 1961 at Boones Creek High School after playing for James Gosnell.

“My dad and myself were the first ever father-son to play for Coach Snyder,” Good said. “That relationship was built at an early, early age for me, and then you go on to what kind of impact he had on my life – and Ken Green and Mike Kiernan and people like that. They’re people I’ll still lean on today. I’ll call ‘em and ask ‘em for advice. Every now and then I’ll call ‘em and I’ll just need to vent. They’re always there.”

Good still talks to Snyder every week or two. Snyder coached for five decades and winning Arby’s was one of the impressive feats in his legendary career.

The Trailblazers, led by Mark Larkey and Steve Cox, defeated defending champion Pulaski County in the championship after Cox’s last-second jumper allowed Boone to escape Len Dugger’s Elvin Browne-led Elizabethton along the way.

Good, a junior, was tasked with guarding freakishly athletic Mike Porter, who did repeat as MVP in defeat.

“I was guarding Porter in the championship game,” Good said, “and after the first quarter they led 14-12, and he had all 14. … We had a pretty good ball team my junior year, mainly because of Mark Larkey and Steve Cox. We were ranked in the top five in the state most of the year. … Cox hit a jumper in the lane to beat Elizabethton.”

Cross country-track & field coach Len Jeffers has thrived during Good’s tenure. Adam Barnard won multiple state titles under Jeffers’ passionate, watchful eye.

“Watching Len’s cross country team in 2014 win the state championship was just, you know,” Good said, “when you see the pack coming down through there and Adam’s leading ‘em, you know right then you’ve got a shot. That was pretty special. And that program works so hard. I don’t know if people realize how hard those kids work. And not just that bunch, the ones before them and the ones we have now. They’re unbelievable.”

One of Good’s most vivid memories wasn’t a happy one, although it was ultimately heartwarming seeing how the community responded after volleyball player Kaylee Rabun was killed in a car accident in 2016.

“When she passed, Coach (Chelsea) Baker wasn’t real sure about what they were gonna do the next week as far as games,” Good said. “I think if it was a non-conference game we might’ve postponed. But we had Dobyns-Bennett coming up and the girls – we met and asked them what they thought that Kaylee would want to do and they said, ‘She’d want us to play.’ And I said, ‘Well, maybe that’s what we should do.’

“And the environment that night in the gym, I could probably get choked up now just talking about it. That environment that night with our kids and team and everything, and the way Dobyns-Bennett conducted themselves as well – it’s what it’s all about. And we won, which made it even better. It was a really special, special night for a special, special girl.”

Trailblazers student-athletes have indeed inspired their community. Good said approximately half of the top graduating 10 percent has annually been athletes. Soccer player Chris Upham is valedictorian this year and Nickolette Ferguson (softball) and runner Keaton Smith are co-salutatorian.

Good, like seemingly everyone else around Gray, hated seeing the careers of seniors Jaycie Jenkins (volleyball, basketball, softball) and Tennessee baseball signee Cade Elliott get cut short. Softball might have made a state tournament run and the baseball team had a legitimate shot at winning the Big Seven Conference and the region.

“But God’s got a plan for everything,” Good said, “and our kids such as those two – when you talk to them, they get that. They understand it and their attitude is not bad about this situation we’re in right now. They’re more concerned about people that are suffering and people that are losing their lives. I know that sounds like it’s a storybook, but it’s not. That’s just what kind of kids they are. They’ve got their priorities straight. We’ve got a lot of those kids at Daniel Boone High School. …

“Athletics was good to me when I was a kid and I really don’t know anything else. I’m fortunate to get to do what I do and I get paid for it. I’m thankful for the opportunity that Ron Dykes and the board of education gave me and that Dr. (Bill) Flanary and the board we have now continue to support.”