Don’t best against them this season
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It’s been a long 20 game span since Heritage tasted victory. It’s been even longer one since the Mountaineers have had that feeling of satisfaction on the road. Back in the place where that 18-game road losing streak began in 2009, the Mountaineers found faith, redemption and a glimmer of that vision their coach holds for their future.
Just not a victory.
Like won the game.
Oh and did they ever.
Heritage rolled up 35 points by halftime. They pushed and opened holes for Orlando Bledsoe to top the 200-yard rushing mark — with half the second quarter still remaining. The Mountaineers created turnovers to take the lead and atone for their own earlier errors. They met Seymour big play for big play. For five plays Heritage was just the same old try hard Heritage, but then they became HERITAGE, home of the Mountaineers and ran, blocked, passed, tackled, and intercepted in a manner more reminiscent of those Blount County schools that lie inside a city limit.
The pregame man hug between old teammates now coaching on opposite side lines aside, this was a rivalry once more.
Tim Hammontree’s postgame was profound and didn’t focus so much on victory as the first step in a long process for his team, their school and the communities.
But it was a moment.
When one of the nation’s best kickers went wide right in the final seconds, the Seymour fans erupted in cheers, assuming that it would curve in for overtime. But when the officials signalled no good and the clock expired, there was brief moment of silence as a Heritage didn’t seem quite certain it had prevailed. wasn’t quite sure they could actually celebrate yet.
That’s understandable, but once they started, they did it up right.
Hammontree wasn’t soaking wet. No shaving cream appeared in postgame interviews.
But the entire team stayed together, took a knee and listened to their coach without a player daring to look away and not a parent, cheerleader, band member or any other student willing to even whisper while Hammontree talked. The team broke it down for victory and even needed a little help on that almost forgotten pattern but was glad to be doing it.
There is no greater victory for Heritage than winning well after having become to practiced at losing well and not accepting moral victory.
The Mountaineers aren’t likely to pull a move reminiscent of George Quarles first season after Hammontree left the Rebels and turn a 0-for start into a state title. But then that would have been crazy talk then after Heritage became the last team to beat Maryville for five seasons.
Is it possible?
Sure 8-2 is mathematically possible.
Is it probable?
But after seeing that reaction and the first taste of victory after being hungry so long, I’m not sure I’d bet against anything the Mountaineers set their mind to this season.
Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times. Follow him @TDT_Sports, He wrote from Seymour.