Whitwell, TN-(WDEF-TV) After winning a state title last year, Whitwell had to replace a lot of talent and a head coach. Assistant Travis Olinger took over the program, and now he’s sidelined after hurting his knee in practice this week.
So a few hard knocks for the Tigers already, but defending state crowns are never easy.
Angela Moryan previews Whitwell in tonight’s 30-in-30 series.
The question for the 2019 Whitwell Tigers is how do you repeat that state championship moment.
Said lineman JJ Headrick: “We’ve really picked up right where we left off.”
Said quarterback Thomas Ridge: “A lot of people are going to be after us, so we’ve got to work hard and make sure we come out on top again this year, because we’re going to have a big bulls eye on our back.”
The Tigers lost a lot of state championship talent, including Mr. Football Finalist Hudson Petty and head coach Randall Bouldin. However, with pressure to defend their title, the Tigers are getting stronger and faster.
Said receiver Jacob Roberts: “We’ve lost a couple good players but I think we have a lot of good players coming up that a lot of people haven’t seen.”
Said Ridge: “Coming in, having to fill a lot of big shoes, It’s very crucial that I practice hard and work on my technique and stuff to make sure that I’m just as good as the people last year.”
Said offensive coordinator Brandon McLeroy: “We have a massive line. As you can see we’ve got some meat behind me right here. That’s a good thing to have. We also have some young skill players that … I believe are a lot better than a lot of people give them credit for.”
The Tigers say new head coach Travis Olinger and his staff haven’t changed much.
Said Headrick: “He was here last year, and we had a lot of the coaches stay, so it wasn’t that big of a change.”
Said McLeroy: “Our kids really love him… They love him in the school. They love him out of the school. They love in the field house. So that’s a big thing to have, because when you have a coaching change, what you fear is having the players against the coaches and we don’t have that.”
But they do have doubters.
Said Roberts: “A lot of people think we’re not as good as we should be, but I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people. They just don’t respect us, and one day they’ll respect us.”
Said Brandon: “I think we’re going to show some people that Whitwell’s not done.”