It’s been the stuff from which legends are born. Greenbacks season has had enough odd twists and turns to inspire a Homeric adventure, the kind of moments Hollywood wouldn’t have to embellish to keep the audience riveted. Through it all, the 46 players with an ad hoc coaching staff have had each other and that’s been enough.

Through the oddities of electrical power in Jellico, the weather that smited the homecoming game against Sequoyah and had the homecoming court’s heels still dropping dangerously deep into the turf a day later when the game resumed on Saturday afternoon, on road trips and around the odd turns, the ’Kees have had each other.

And in that bond the road just kept going and getting a little longer and the team no one but themselves could envision playing after Thanksgiving was scheduling its second December game in school history.

“It’s always our goal to reach the state championship but with all the turmoil that was going on under the turmoil and knowing we had some issues to face it just shows the character of these kids and coaches that we were able to get better every week. When you work hard and trust each other then you can do something special.” Greenback co-head coach Brent Kilpatrick said.

Greenback never backed down Friday afternoon in the 42-14 loss to Nashville Christian, gutting out two scoring drives that were more about pride than the points against a team that was simply a step faster at too many places. But it was the same enough is enough mindset that took Greenback into the semifinals and then on to Cookeville.

“These seniors have stepped up, provided a lot of leadership and set the example for what we need to at Greenback and how to be a Cherokee,” Kilpatrick said.

As the trophies were brought onto the field Friday afternoon and the streaking eye black left trails where the salt of sweat mingled with the sting of tears under orange helmets, just how much this team means to a community that showed up at TTU with everybody in town and then some, was evident. The cheer from the home stands for runner-up nearly drowned out that of the champions across the way.

“It meant a lot to the kids to hear that,” Kilpatrick said. “After all the hard work they have put in there’s a lot of teams who would love to be here today. We’re the second best Class A team in state of Tennessee and that’s a lot to be proud of.”

That wasn’t enough to win on Friday, but it is more than enough for the Cherokees.

Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times. He wrote from Cookeville.

An East Tennessee newshound since 1990, minus a few years spent working the road race circuit in D.C. , Marcus has been a reporter, copy editor and sports editor, and is now a production manager of APG's Design Hub located at The Daily Times.

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