A long way to go
Three weeks into the prep football season, optimism abounds around two of the county football programs, while at the other a team works hard to reinvent itself.
For the Marshall County Tigers, there is plenty to be happy about as the squad is off to an impressive 2-0 start with two consecutive road victories over Coffee County and Hickman County.
After the Hickman County contest, Tiger head coach Tom Turchetta reiterated his desire that his team play in the present and for the present as he set his goal of winning the region title.
And why not?
There is an old adage in every sport, but especially football that a team is a direct composition of the coach and the Turchetta Tigers are built to be tough, physical, football-smart, and not afraid to display their individual talents in the parameters of the team philosophy.
The team just looks different this season, confident, strong, fast, but not cocky in their stride and even when down 7-0 to the Bulldogs Friday night on the road, there was not a single player on the sidelines that was not one hundred percent sure that they would come back to win.
They did, scoring 28 unanswered points to secure the victory.
In year one of the Turchetta reign, Tiger offensive coordinator Steven McClanahan talked about mixing some chocolate milk, an easy, but effective thirst quencher.
He was talking about running the football, a fundamental key to winning football games, but McClanahan didn't have the horses, so this year he set out to change it with some lessons in math, muscle, and meanness.
Four plus four, plus four, equals first downs on the gridiron and the Tigers must have skipped McClanahan's addition class and went straight to multiplication as they have racked up close to 600 yards in the ground game in two weeks.
The big surprise of the season has to be the addition of senior tailback Trevor Irizorry, who came to Lewisburg via Lawrence County High School.
Irizorry is the real deal, quick, fast, tough, and he runs with an attitude.
Adding him to the list of playmakers on the roster must have McClanahan and Turchetta, licking their chops.
"Trevor is doing great, but he is just a part of what we are doing," said Turchetta. "All of our backs bring something a little different to the table and our offensive line can block. We are not a one man show, we can do a lot of different things."
The Tigers will need all the playmakers they can get Friday night at Preston Hopkins Field in Lewisburg as they take on Turchetta's old squad, Columbia Central.
"This is a great rivalry between two communities and two schools that we hope will go on for a long time," said Turchetta.
The reigning 5A state champion Lions come into the contest undefeated at 3-0 and are ranked number one in the AP Poll, sixth in the Tennessean's Midstate Top 10, and eighteen statewide in USA Today's Super 25 rankings.
"Obviously, a win would give us a lot of confidence," said Turchetta. "Remember, this has been a team (Columbia) that has won twenty-nine out of their last thirty-three ballgames, so a win would validate everything we are doing here."
"But, this is not a be all, win all game," added Turchetta. "Football is a marathon, not a sprint and it is important that we keep everything in perspective."
Columbia barely escaped with a 13-10 win over Tullahoma last week thanks to an untimely fumble in the endzone on an apparent go-ahead touchdown by the Wildcats with just over three minutes left in the contest, leading to the Lions running out the clock.
Unfortunately, for the Tigers, they will be without their stellar all-region lineman Davey Maddox, suspended for the Columbia game after being flagged for two unsportsmanlike penalties late in the game versus Hickman County.
Can the Tigers rally around Maddox for an upset win over the Lions? Why not, 27-24 Tigers on a late Medley field goal.
In Chapel Hill, there is also much optimism as the Rockets have played better than most pundits have predicted, winning two out of their first three ballgames.
In the opener, Forrest gave 1A number three ranked Perry County all they had before succumbing 22-7.
In week two, the Chapel Hill squad rebounded nicely, putting away Collinwood 30-6 with a huge second half and last week, Kyle Stacey's crew went to Unionville and took care of business, needing only one half to secure an eventual 48-27 victory.
This week, the entire Forrest student body has been celebrating Homecoming and Friday night's football game that pits the Rockets against White House Heritage will cap off the festivities.
It will be the seventh consecutive meeting between the two schools with the Rockets holding a 4-2 advantage over the Patriots.
The Pats beat Forrest 28-21 in Robertson County last season, but look for the home team to get revenge this season as the Rockets soar to 3-1 with a 20-10 win.
In Cornersville, high hopes for a winning season were quickly erased before the season ever started when their standout quarterback Joe Stocstill was lost for the season with an ACL tear.
Without any experienced signal callers in the stable, the Bulldogs played well in week one, losing in Moore County 21-7 before being blown out by Perry County 44-7 last Friday in Frog Bottom.
This week, the Dawgs hit the highway to take on Huntland (1-2) in a series that has the Hornets up 7-3 since 2001, but the Dawgs have taken the last three and will make it four in a row with a tough 14-13 win.