Painful exits; road goes on: Prep quarterfinals bring risk and reward
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (email@example.com)
One moved on down the road to Cookeville and two were forced to take an earlier exit than hoped Friday in the quarterfinals of the TSSAA playoffs.
Alcoa put up a tremendous fight but couldn’t replicate the magic of the season-ending 3-point win over Christian Academy of Knoxville. The pair that had flipped No. 1 and No. 2 in the state standings all season, met for the 16th time in eight seasons and CAK now stands 2-6 in the postseason collisions that the last seven times have produced the eventual state champion.
The undefeated Dobyns-Bennett squad that entered Shields Stadium saw its dreams towed away as another fender bender that came out on the wrong side of an impact against Maryville. The two-time defending 6A champions brought another promising D-B season to an early playoff end in setting up their own Black Friday plans for the state semifinals. It is the 12th consecutive season that the Rebels will spend Thanksgiving Day on the practice field.
Down the road in Greenback, it was the end of what has been a storybook season for the Cherokees. Coalfield saw to it that Greenback would not honor its 1987 state champions with a 25th anniversary gift of a second state football title.
Fans jumped for joy on one side, players fell to a knee with tears in their eyes on the other, coaches shook hands and some of them started calling for tape of next week and some thought about when they’d collect practice gear and hold the last team meeting of the season. That’s the nature of the playoffs, where win or go home, is painful.
Coalfield, CAK and Maryville prepare for the next stop on the road to Cookeville and the two days of state title games in the BlueCross Bowl at Tennessee Tech University. It will be the last potential exit to avoid before arriving in Tucker Stadium.