Don’t talk to Philip Shadowens about moral victories. As far as he’s concerned, that topic is nonsense.
The William Blount coach could have spoken about that following Friday night’s 31-7 loss to visiting Ooltewah, but he didn’t want to belittle the progress he believes the Governors have made.
The last two seasons Ooltewah breezed past William Blount 42-0 and 48-7. On Friday, William Blount trailed by 10 points with seven minutes left in the game and was driving inside the Ooltewah 30-yard line when an interception turned the tide in the Owls’ favor for good.
“We’re really close. We know we are,” Shadowens said. “We have to take a small step to beat teams that are the quality of Ooltewah, and we know that. We didn’t make plays when we had a chance to make them.”
One play William Blount (1-2, 0-2 Region 2-6A) did make came with 10 minutes left in the game when cornerback Noah Durman intercepted Ooltewah quarterback Lane Moore inside the Governors’ 20-yard line. The Governors trailed 17-7 at the time, and that play gave them a chance to get back in the game.
Sophomore running back Micah Franklin, who rushed 21 times for 138 yards and scored one touchdown, got the ensuing drive started in grand fashion by ripping off a 20-yard run. Franklin and Cooper combined to run on the next six plays as William Blount advanced to the Owls’ 28.
On second-and-3, quarterback Trey Clemmer had a pass deflected into the air that Ooltewah’s Preston Pruett intercepted and returned into William Blount territory.
Two plays later, Ooltewah running back Jaequan Greenhill scored on a 42-yard run as part of his 134-yard, two-touchdown performance to put the Owls ahead 24-7 with 4 minutes, 49 seconds left in the game.
After William Blount went four-and-out on the next possession, Ooltewah (1-1, 1-0) scored in five plays to put the game further out of reach.
Shadowens said the pass that got intercepted was thrown to the wrong side of the field and served as an example of the spots in which William Blount needs to get over the hump.
“We know what we have,” Shadowens said. “We don’t have to play perfect football, but we have to play really, really good football and we can’t have turnovers. We can’t have many mistakes. We’re not that kind of team. We’re not a big play team.
“We knew we had a chance to be a really good running team. We have receivers that are skilled. They’re small but fast. We knew we could be good a while ago. Now it’s just a matter of winning more football games.”
William Blount was in the game despite what Shadowens said was a poor first half. The Governors missed field goals on back-to-back drives and trailed 10-0 at halftime.
They did end the half on a positive note when Eli Turner recovered an Ooltewah fumble on the 2-yard line in the final minute to prevent the Owls from taking a three-score lead.
Shadowens said he thought that was the boost William Blount needed, but Ooltewah stole the momentum by driving 85 yards in 15 plays and scoring a touchdown on the first series of the third quarter for a 17-0 lead.
Ultimately, that deficit was too much to overcome.
“It’s about winning,” Shadowens said. “We don’t have moral victories here, and that’s not for us. Our kids know that we’ve taken another step forward. We know we’re a good football team. We have to beat good football teams. That’s what it amounts to.
“It’s going to take a tremendous amount to get over the top. The kids will start again on Monday. We’ll start tonight as a coaching staff. We are really close. We have to find ways to finish that.”