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BA's Sanders to face dad in football matchup

Freshman CJ Sanders scored two touchdowns against Maplewood in a 35-7 BA win last week. He will be facing his old school - and his dad - Friday when the Eagles travel to MBA. (Photo by Pierce Greenberg)

Former Titans receiver coaches for Eagles' opponent MBA

For Brentwood Home Page
When Brentwood Academy meets Montgomery Bell Academy on the gridiron Friday night, BA freshman CJ Sanders' mom, Stacie Harris, will be watching intently.

But she won't just be glued on CJ's performance. She'll also be keeping an eye on the MBA’s home sideline, where CJ's dad, Chris Sanders, a former Tennessee Titans wideout, will be coaching the Big Red receivers.

Harris can't wait to see how Sanders will respond to his son's play – for the opposing team.

"It's funny how he will step into the coaching and parent role and how he will respond if (CJ) does something great," Harris said."I know how he gets excited and emotional about CJ. I can't see him not being a parent for a second. I'm sure he'll do a little clap or fist pump or something."

Harris and CJ's dad are divorced but share a common bond when it comes to CJ's accomplishments.

"I texted (Chris) today and said 'Hey, I know you are over there strategizing against our son,'" Harris said. "We have been teasing each other."

The good-natured ribbing actually "goes back a long way," Harris said. Chris played football at Ohio State and Harris played basketball at Michigan.

As for CJ, his mom said that he's excited, too.

"It is a big thing to play against his dad… and just for his dad to actually be able to see him play football," Harris said.

When he was younger, CJ Sanders played the young Ray Charles in the biopic Ray and then appeared in several films and television shows.

But there is another storyline for CJ. He attended MBA as an 8th-grader. "He's going to the freshman game (Thursday night) to support all of his friends," Harris said. "He's excited because he did go to school there last year."

From 1st through 7th grade, CJ lived with his mom in Los Angeles, and was an actor in such films as the biopic Ray as the young Ray Charles and on the TV show Six Feet Under.

Stacie remarried former Vanderbilt and NFL football player Corey Harris, and both decided to move back to Nashville when CJ was 13. After one year at MBA, Stacie Harris wanted to find the high school that was the best "fit" for her son.

"MBA is a great school, so it has nothing to do with them not being a good fit. But as his mother, I had to do what was a good fit for CJ," Harris said. "I loved that (BA) was a little smaller and the Christian atmosphere."

Interestingly enough, Harris quizzed other schools about their athletic programs, but when it came to Brentwood Academy she never asked about the football program or CJ's prospects of playing time

"(BA) is the one school I went in and didn't meet the coach. I figured his ability and God would take care of the rest," Harris said.

Based on his early-season performance, she might be right. When several other playmakers went down with injuries, CJ suddenly found himself in a starting role. Last week against Maplewood, the freshman exploded for two touchdowns - a 39-yard catch and a 50-yard scoring run.

"He's a really young guy. I'm not sure he knows what he's doing yet, but he's got a lot of speed and a lot of talent," BA head coach Ralph Potter said after the game.

On Friday night, Sanders will use that talent and speed to try and hand MBA - and his dad - a conference loss. 

Mom will be watching.

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