Pride On The Line: Govs’ playing for pride over tough final stretch
By Grant Ramey | (email@example.com)
Playing in what David Gregory calls the toughest district in the state, there’s no good time to schedule some of the state’s toughest opponents.
The last four weeks of the season, though, have been a particular murderers’ row for the Govs’ the past four seasons.And like it has been over those seasons, the third week in the overly-tough four weeks is by far the toughest, when the Govs (2-6, 1-4 District 4-AAA) play Maryville (8-0, 6-0) tonight.
“It’s tough, I’m not going to lie to you,” Gregory told The Daily Times Wednesday. “But at some point in the season, everybody goes through the same stretch.
“If you split up, what are you going to do? Move Maryville to the third week and put Bearden there? It’s just a deal where it’s the toughest district in the state. You’ve got to play the hand that’s dealt to you.”
For the past four seasons, the hand dealt to WB over the final four weeks of has been Knoxville West, Lenoir City, Maryville and Farragut.
Those four teams are a combined 24-8 this season and all but one are ranked in the state polls — Maryville is No. 1 in Class 6A, and Lenoir City (7-1) is No. 3 in 5A, just ahead of No. 5 West (6-2).
The Govs are 1-11 in the in the final four weeks over the last three seasons, with the lone win coming last season over Lenoir City.
A difference last year, too, was the Govs still playing for a playoff berth heading into the last two weeks of the season.
The playoffs are out of the picture this season.
But there’s no shortage of pride on the line for among Gregory and his team.
“The toughest thing is just making them understand that there’s still a purpose to play,” Gregory said.
“It doesn’t matter how they feel or what they think. Come Friday night at 7:30, there’s going to be a football game and you’ve got to put kids on the field to play.”
And that purpose remains this year, with or without the playoffs being a possibility.
“Last year (during) these last couple of weeks we kind were in the fight for a playoff berth,” Gregory said. “The kids fought hard.
“All I ask this week is the same thing. Even though we’re out of the playoffs, it’s about pride. It’s about pride for yourself and pride for your school.”
There’s been plenty of pride in the Govs first eight games, despite a tough 2-6 start.
Senior quarterback Tim Green has ran for 288 yards and a touchdown on 72 carries. He’s completed 48-of-88 passes, too, for 528 yards and three more scores.
Sophomore wide receiver Joel Graham has emerged as a popular target for Green, catching 17 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown in just his first season of varsity football.
“The positive for Joel is he still has two years to grow and mature — and become and even better ball player,” Gregory said.
“You always hate it for your seniors when you have years like this. You don’t like to see any group go out like this.”
Gregory isn’t changing the way he coaches or prepares his players, including those seniors, entering the final two weeks of the season.
“I don’t think you change the way you coach. You have to change the reason that they’re playing,” Gregory said.
“They’re smart enough kids to realize that they’re not going to the playoffs.”
But there’s more to football than playoffs.
“They’ve got to understand that they started something,” Gregory continued.
“You can continue to play but basically quit, or you can still play as hard as you did the very first game.”