WHITWELL, Tenn. (WDEF) — The Whitwell Tigers went from being undefeated state champions to limping into the playoffs as a fourth seed and a 2-8 record this year. However, the Tigers proving there’s still some November magic left for Big Red.
With just 22 players, the Tigers went up to undefeated Monterey and upset the Wildcats 21-7 last Friday to keep state championship repeat hopes alive.
“It felt great. It really did,” quarterback Brandon Hamill said. “I feel like we’re trying to get our fire back a little bit.”
“We’re a very tough team, and I think it lit our fire knowing this is do or die,” running back Trenton Stockwell said.
Once again, Whitwell pulled off the unthinkable. After winning just two regular season games, the Tigers traveled to Monterey Friday with renewed determination.
“I could see it in some of them’s face, they thought it was done and everything. The other boys did a real good job with the ones that were down on the season, picking them up and reminding them that it’s not over,” Coach Travis Olinger said.
“It sucked. It really did,” Hamill said. “We didn’t want to end it 2-8. All our buddies that were seniors last year were really counting on us and I feel like we let them down. But now, we’re trying to fix it.”
Upsetting a number 1 seed is certainly a move in the right direction.
“Just coming home knowing that we beat an undefeated team, it’s a pretty great feeling,” running back Cole Burns said. “We kind of got a lot of confidence and kind of got in our minds that we could beat Monterey.”
“I think it shows our resilience,” Stockwell said. “It shows all the work we’ve put in in the offseason and that we refuse to give up.”
Injuries and desertions cut the 56-strong roster to less than two dozen to start the postseason. But that didn’t matter to the Tigers.
“The adversity that this team has had to face has just been monumental,” Olinger said. “It’s like no other. So I think it speaks great volume about their character. They never gave up.”
“The regular season might not turn out right, but I feel like we can make another state run,” Stockwell said.
“We ain’t done yet. Not yet,” Hamill said.
The Whitwell Tigers hope to continue that miraculous playoff run on the road at Gordonsville on Friday.