Tigers poised for epic battle
Rematch with Giles County, but this for state semifinal berth
It seems like forever ago when Marshall County High School played Giles County and came away with a program-changing 26-7 win at Preston Hopkins Field in Lewisburg.
Since that Sept. 16 battle, the Tigers have marched many miles, coming away with six wins in eight ballgames, including two blowout playoff wins versus Notre Dame and Sequoyah.
Under the lights this week in Lewisburg, the two long-time archrivals meet again with a Class 4A state semifinal berth on the line.
"This is definitely a battle of two great rivals," said Marshall County head coach
Tom Turchetta. "But I think it is more significant to our fans that we are playing Giles County than it is to us. What is important to us is to win this quarterfinal game and advance to the semifinals."
The Bobcats did not let the earlier loss to the Tigers ruin their season; instead, it seemed to motivate them as they went on to win six out of seven games.
In contrast to the second-seeded Tigers, the five-seeded Bobcats have had to battle through both rounds of the playoffs, coming away with two close shaves versus number four DeKalb County (35-28) and number one-seeded Brainerd (20-12).
"Every game is different," said Turchetta. "We are different from when we played before and so are they. If we want to advance, we have to play to the best of our ability. These guys all know what is at stake here; we don't have to tell them."
The excitement is there too and Turchetta likes it, saying, "We are in the playoffs, let them be excited. Our job is to get them ready to play the game, adjust if we need to, and play our best football to advance."
Marshall County, the 1984 state champions, have not been to the third round since 2002 when they beat Jackson South Side and McNairy Central before losing to Crockett County.
The game plan for the Tigers is simple: block, run, and tackle. And don't turn the ball over.
Tiger senior tailback Trevor Irizarry, like he has been all year, will be the key to victory.
Irizarry had a breakout game versus the Bobcats, rushing for 191 yards and three touchdowns, establishing himself as one of the premier backs in the state and number one in the storied history at Marshall County, setting all-time school record in yards in one game (319) and for the season (1,960).
If the Tigers can establish Irizarry early and let him do his thing, combined with a solid defensive effort they have been getting all year, Turchetta and his Big Cats will advance with a hard fought 24-21 win.