Gray breaks MCHS tackles record
By Amanda Lowrance
For the past 11 years, Willie Loving has held the record of most tackles in a season at McNairy Central with 126 tackles. As of Oct. 28, in the final game against the Lexington Tigers, inside linebacker Kerby Gray set the new record with 132 tackles.
“He set a goal to break the record this year in tackles and that’s what he did,” said father, Jimmy Gray. “I am glad that he set out to do what he did and he wasn’t selfish about doing it either. He played where he needed to play. We are proud of him.”
Gray led in tackles his junior and senior year of football, making a total of 89 tackles and 43 assists. He had 18 tackles alone in the game against the Adamsville Cardinals.
“Our biggest thing about Kerby is, he never gives up,” said mother, Jill Gray. “Even if the team is losing, he is still out there playing his heart out.”
Growing up a native of Selmer, Tennessee, Gray found lifelong friends along the way.
In fourth grade, he joined peewee football and played for the Blue Bears He played on the same team along with McNairy Central’s Senior Quarterback, Hayden Kiestler.
In junior high Kerby and Kiestler went their separate ways. Kiestler joined the Bethel Springs Rebels.
Gray met with running back and middle linebacker, Justin Sutton at Selmer Middle School. The two led the Lions to an undefeated season in their eighth grade year and moved on to McNairy Central High School, where Gray and Sutton met back up with Kiestler.
Looking back to the young years of when they began the sport of football, Gray compares the past with the present and how things have changed throughout the years.
“I have a picture of me and Hayden when we played with the Blue Bears,” said Gray, “and then I have a picture of our senior year, when we played our last game.”
In high school, Gray began as part of the kick-off team. Coach Tommy Browder led the team to the playoffs his freshmen year. As he grew older and bigger, Gray moved to different positions like outside linebacker and inside linebacker.
During his senior year he was announced Player of the Week in the first and last week of October.
“My best moment in football was in my junior year, against Hardin County when I got my first ever touchdown playing tight end,” said Gray. In the same game, I ran in a return kickoff and scored a touchdown, scoring a total of two touchdowns that game.”
The young boys have grown and now it is time to prepare for the next step in life, but Gray will never forget the people who have inspired him most.
“My parents have always been there for me through everything from peewee to my senior year to support me through everything,” said Gray. “Without them I wouldn’t be the young man I am today.”
At each and every game, Gray’s family, from his brother and sister to his grandparents, are always there to cheer him on and support his team.
“My grandfather Gary Kerby has also been there for me,” said Gray. “He is a man I want to be like when I get older. He would do anything for anyone and gives of himself more than anyone I know.”
Academically, Gray has prepared for college life with a GPA of 3.3. He looks to pursue a career in Sports Training and Physical Therapy or in Education, so that coaching is an option.
The main overall goal is to continue as an athlete, while building a profession.
“Football has always been a major part in my life and I hope to continue playing in the future,” said Gray.
As the oldest of three children, Gray looks to stay close to home and is looking into local colleges.
Recruiting has changed over the past decade, as players, coaches, and parents submit videos via internet. The sky is the limit for Gray, but the deadline approaches.
“It doesn’t seem real that it has come to this,” said mother Gray.
Within a blink of an eye, a small child grows to be a responsible, young adult. Accomplishing so much in such little time, Gray is certainly an athlete and a leader that anyone can look up to.