When starting a football program from scratch, finding enough quality players is a challenge. Nolensville, challenged with that task last season, essentially found two inside one body with Timmy Stayskal.
Last year, Stayskal hauled in 45 passes for 550 yards, helping Nolensville to a surprising 4-8 record that included a first-round playoff win over Livingston Academy. The then-junior was also a first-team all-state linebacker in Class 4-A last season.
This year brings another transition for the Knights. Coach Will Hester got the program off the ground, then left to coach at Alabama’s Florence High School. This year, coach Paul Derrick to picked up where Hester left off. It didn’t take him long to figure out that Stayskal would be a key piece again.
“Having a player like that, that is as versatile as he is on two sides of the ball, is a tremendous asset for our football team,” Derrick said of his senior tight end/linebacker.
Starring on two sides of the ball is an accomplishment in and of itself. But there are plenty of other things that make Stayskal special as well.
Nolensville’s Swiss army knife
Stayskal, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior, is wearing a lot of hats again. It’s not just that he plays both ways, but the fact that the Knights can use him so many ways within those roles, that make him vital to Nolensville’s success.
Nolensville listed him as an “h-back” on last year’s roster, but Stayskal’s built more like a college receiver. That’s how the Knights often used him in 2017. Derrick wanted to build on his skill set and use him in more ways this fall.
“He’s been a receiver for us. … We wanted to use a tight end more, we felt like Timmy was a guy who could be that flex tight end, could hold up at the point of attack, but, he can also provide some mis-matches when we flex him out,” Derrick said.
“We can move him around and do different things with him. It just gives our offense some flexibility… as far as being an in-line tight end and also being able to use him in the slot or out wide.”
This year, Stayskal has caught four passes for 64 yards and a touchdown, all coming in last week’s loss to Page. Stayskal’s catch-less opener against Fayetteville was more about game flow than it was him; the Knights led 27-6 at half in an eventual 41-28 win.
Stayskal’s defensive stats for this year—one interception, 3 1/2 tackles—also don’t pop off the page. He can put up big numbers if the situation calls for it, such as he did in an 11-tackle, five-stops-for-loss performance against Maplewood last year.
“He plays strong side outside linebacker… that’s more of what we call a ‘drop’ linebacker in our 3-4 scheme, where he’s got to play in space, got to play the field,” Derrick said. “Going back to being a really good athlete, he was able to do some things in space for us, and we also will bring him off the edge some as a fourth rusher. Again, he’s big enough that he can hold up at the point of attack.
“He’s a very, very unique athlete as far as his skill set.”
Well-rounded off the field
Stayskal carries a 4.3 GPA and scored a 28 on the ACT. He cites two classes he’s currently taking—psychology and unmanned aerial systems—as the subjects he most enjoys.
The latter has particularly sparked his interest. Stayskal has taken classes in that area since his sophomore year. Playing with drones is a hobby, and, though he hasn’t decided on a college major, aerospace engineering is a possibility.
“It’s a very unique program we have here, unmanned aerial systems,” Stayskal said. “We learned all about the basics of drones, how they work, how they fly, the parts of them. We go and fly them sometimes, do different projects with them, different types of engineering stuff with them.”
Stayskal is a bit reserved, but that hasn’t limited him from reaching out to help others. He enjoys his role in Nolensville’s Freshman Mentor Student-Leader program.
“We go into freshman home rooms on Monday and Tuesdays and get freshman excited and ready for high school,” he said, adding that his favorite part is getting to know the students he’s helping and making them more comfortable.
School administrators and teachers have taken notice. Nolensville selected Stayskal as an “Order of the Wheel Award” winner for 2017-18, an honor given to one boy and one girl each year based on academics, athletics, character, citizenship and leadership.
“He may not be the most vocal leader, but he leads by example in doing the right things,” Derrick said. “When other kids see him doing those sorts of things, that’s kind of contagious and bleeds over into other aspects of your program.”
Stayskal doesn’t stay idle away from school, either.
“This kind of speaks to his work ethic as well, he and [Nolensville running back] Colton Dooley have a lawn business that they run in the summertime,” Derrick said. “If we start workouts at eight o’clock in the morning, they will already have cut two or three yards before they come to work out. Then they’ll have their workouts and they’ll go finish cutting yards after workouts.”
“We started that summer after eighth-grade year,” Stayskal said. “We would go through neighborhoods—either his dad or my brother would drop us off in the neighborhood—and we’d just pull a trailer with a couple of lawn mowers or weed eaters and a blower around. We’d mow about eight yards in each neighborhood.”
“Now, we have a big zero-turn mower and do about 20 to 25 yards a week.”
Nolensville is 1-1 heading into Friday’s game with Spring Hill, a rematch of a game the Knights lost 27-13 last year. It’s the Knights’ first Region 4-A contest, and an important one if they want to return to the playoffs.
Stayskal hopes to play college football. Butler and Morehead State have extended scholarship offers. His versatility has clouded the picture as to what he’ll be at that level.
“The people that are recruiting him are kind of looking at him [on both sides of the ball],” Derrick said. “Some schools like him as a receiver/tight end, some schools I talked to like him as an outside linebacker if they run a similar scheme to what they run.
Whatever the future holds, he’s already left his mark in his hometown, where he hopes to return after school.
“He’s a great athlete, a hard worker, a high-character kid, but as good as a football player as he is, he’s an even better person,” Derrick said. “He always does what he’s supposed to do. He always goes above and beyond what you ask him to do.
“He’s always willing to help out in any way he can. … They don’t come much higher character than Tim Stayskal.”