The Anderson County Mavericks, Morristown West, Catholic High, and West High School all gathered on a sweltering Thursday evening, July 18, to play 7-on-7.
The Mavericks played Morristown West for their first match-up, handily showing off their passing skills against the heavily running-based team to great effect.
Referring to that game, Head Coach David Gillum said, “We couldn’t have played a whole lot better or tighter.”
Unfortunately for Anderson County, after that came Catholic. Whether it was heat or simply fatigue, the team started to slow down. Passes were dropped, coverage wasn’t as good as it should have been, and the mistakes cost them.
Catholic’s coverage, meanwhile, was good enough that, at least on one occasion, the quarterback ran out of time without ever having found an open receiver.
After, as the sun sank low behind the hills and houses of Sutherland Avenue and West’s band practiced fight songs down the hill, the Mavs took their places for the final game of the night against West High School. They moved slower than the first game, jogging into position covered in sweat and scuffmarks from the turf, sometimes seeming more like zombies than teenagers.
Gary Terry, the athletic director for Anderson County, said, “We’ll see what happens here. See if they can play when they’re tired.”
And boy did they. The Mavs scored against West on their very first play, and that set the tone for the rest of the game. Wherever a Mav was catching the ball for AC, West wasn’t. They ran it to the end zone again and again and again. West played hard, and they were fast, but they just couldn’t keep up.
After, the Mavs all gathered round and took a knee. One by one the coaches told them what they did right, what they did wrong, and what to expect in the coming weeks.
“It’s gonna be a different intensity now,” said Coach Chadwell. “If you wanna play on Friday nights, then every rep has to be a game rep. Every rep.”
“We gotta be better leaders and better players,” said Coach Gillum. “We throw the football, it’s what we do. I don’t get impressed much as a coach anymore, but I’m gonna be honest, you guys have impressed me.”
The most amazing thing of the entire night, though, was the sportsmanship and love for the game that all the schools showed. Apart from some low comments by a few choice players from Catholic High School, the overall atmosphere was one of people who were just genuinely happy to be there, and genuinely happy that football season is almost back. Players from other teams helped one another up, congratulated each other on good passes and good coverage, and, when a West and AC player collided on the field, took the time to check and make sure each other were okay. It’s the kind of sportsmanlike conduct that shows each school has good kids, and good coaches that inspire them to be the best they can be not just physically, but as people.
Anderson County’s first game of the season will be August 23 against cross-county rival Clinton. Kickoff will be at 7:30.