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Former football standout dies in single-vehicle accident
Feb 18, 2013 6:36 pm
A former standout football player at Friendship Christian School and Cumberland University died early Sunday morning following a single-vehicle accident in which alcohol may have played a part.
Tyler B. McChurch, 29, of Lebanon, was killed around 5:30 a.m., on Academy Road in Lebanon. The Tennessee Highway Patrol investigated the accident.
Trooper Chad Bilbrey said McChurch was driving a 2002 Chevy Tahoe SUV headed westbound on Academy Road when he crossed over the eastbound lane. His vehicle went off the north side of the road when he tried to correct it and hit a concrete culvert, flipping multiple times before coming to rest on its top.
Bilbrey said his report alcohol was a contributing factor in the accident. McChurch was wearing his seat belt.
McChurch, along with his brothers Mitchell and Connor, are well known in Wilson County football circles for their love of the game.
All three played for coach Dewayne Alexander at Cumberland. Tyler McChurch was one of a handful of Bulldogs who played through the transition from longtime coach Herschel Moore to Alexander, playing two seasons for John Parker in between. He finished his career as a fifth-year senior linebacker for Alexander in 2006.
"He played all year with a shoulder injury," Alexander said Monday. "He just said, 'Coach, I just love playing football.'
"He just embodied college football. He wasn't the tallest guy, the fastest guy or the biggest guy. But he was a football player. He loved to play.
"He always showed up for practice with a smile on his face. He just appreciated playing college football."
Alexander, who recently left Cumberland to coach the offensive line at Tennessee Tech, coached Mitch and Connor McChurch at both Wilson Central High and Cumberland, where Connor wrapped up his career last fall. Tyler visited Alexander last summer as the staff was in the process of moving the football operations from the Cumberland campus to Nokes-Lasater Field on the former Lebanon High School site. He was a regular at Connor's games, where he tailgated in the parking lot.
"He and his brothers could have played in the 1950s or 1960s," Alexander said. "They were old-school football players.
Friendship coach John McNeal used Tyler McChurch as a tailback and linebacker. He ran for more than 1,000 yards as a senior.
"We put our offense on his back," McNeal said. "As he went, we went. He was a hard-nosed linebacker. He was the kind of kid I love coaching. If I had a model of a football player, he was the kind, especially at the positions he played.
"Going into games, I never worried about Tyler; I knew I was going to get his best every night. He was self-motivated. It didn't matter if he rushed for 80 or 200 yards."
McChurch also played basketball for the Commanders as a guard/wing for coach Jason Piercey.
"He just approached everything that way," McNeal said. "He just loved the games.
"It was that important to him. Whether it was football or it was basketball, he was all in. There were no distractions outside, not with him."
"My heart goes out to the whole family," Alexander said. "I was blessed to get to know him and get to coach him."