COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (WDEF) — Saturday, football meant more than X’s and O’s , more than play calls, runs, and throws. Saturday, a town of 1,700 rallied together as one giant red wave, watching as the 2018 Whitwell Tigers made history at the state championship in Cookeville.
“When we were little, we talked about it. Going into high school, we talked about it. And we knew we were going to get it done our senior year,” game MVP Hudson Petty said. “We’ve been working for this all our lives, and it’s just great for us and the community.”
But it didn’t come easy.
The enemy, the Cornersville Bulldogs, took the opening drive all the way to the endzone. A 3-yard Trenton Warren touchdown caps off the series. Whitwell breaks up the extra point, making the score 6-0.
That score stuck into the second half.
In the third, Whitwell receiver Hudson Petty gave the Tigers a little spark they needed on offense, making something out of nothing. He went 36 yards down to the 19-yard line. Tigers still unable to get points on the board, though.
Those came with seven minutes left on the clock. On 4th and 5, Petty fakes the run, then dumps it to receiver Tanner Stewart. Stewart did the rest of the work. A 15-yard touchdown and good extra point gave the Tigers a 7-6 lead.
Cornersville started to get the Whitwell fans scared as they drove down the field with the final seconds falling off the clock. However, the wind grabbed the last Bulldogs pass. Whitwell’s Stewart got a hand in front of the Cornersville receiver just in case.
“When I slapped that ball down, I just saw everybody bull rush me,” Stewart said. “I just saw our crowd going crazy. It was amazing. Never forget that moment in my life. This is what we’ve worked for since we were 6.”
With that, the buzzer rang, and the 2018 Whitwell Tigers became the first ever state champion team for the town of Whitwell. The Tigers also finish their season perfect, 15-0.
“I’m proud for our community,” Coach Randall Boldin said. “They’ve supported us all year. I’m proud for our kids. I’m proud for anybody’s that’s worn this uniform in the past. They’ve dealt with some bad seasons so hopefully we send some pride back their way as well.”