We’re used to seeing South Pittsburg make deep playoff runs, but they haven’t made the state title game since 2013.
The Pirates might have the Cookeville formula this year because they’ve got talent combined with experience.
Said head coach Vic Grider: “We got to figure out how to get to the game. We’ve been so close, and our kids want to be there so bad, because that’s just how it is here. You either win it all or it wasn’t very successful.”
The South Pittsburg Pirates are hungry for a taste of Cookeville this year, something the seniors have yet to experience despite losing just five games total the last three years.
Said receiver Jaylyn Hubbard: “It kind of hurt because the past three years we’ve done had it and we were just one snap away from getting there.”
Said running back Ronto Tipton: “We ain’t got where we wanted so we’ve got one more year left so we’re going to try to get where we want to be.”
Youth plagued the Pirates in the past. However, this year, the team is stacked with experienced older players. That means the expectations are stacked as well.
Said Grider: “You know, 31 upperclassmen, you got to win football games. When we have that many old guys that tells me that we’ve got guys that have played a lot of football over the last three or four years. Hopefully that’s going to pay dividends for us.”
Said Tipton: “It helps lead the way. We know where we’ve been. It’s our fourth year. It ain’t our first time being here so it just helps.”
The Pirates also have depth on their side.
Said Grider: “I think we’re going to have a lot of people we’re going to feel comfortable putting in a football game. So many of those games in the second half come down to attrition, who can survive until the end. And when you have 26, 27, 28 bodies you can run in there, usually it pays off for you. So we’re going to kind of hand our hat on that and play a lot of people early, and hopefully it will make a difference at the end of the season when it really matters.”
Said Hubbard: “I feel like we’re more competitive this year, and we made a lot of mistakes last year, so we’ll make up for it. Just come out and compete better.”
Said Grider: “I think we’ve been there, done that. I don’t think anything’s going to catch us off guard. I don’t think we’re going to be overwhelmed by the moment of being in a big game. But we still have to play well in those games.”