Greenback preparing for first state title football game in decades

GREENBACK (WATE) – It’s a title game appearance 28 years in the making for the Greenback Cherokees.

“It’s the first time we’ve been back to the state championship since 1987. It’s what everybody’s talking about at the drug store and corner market,” said co-head coach Brent Kilpatrick.

Previous story: 5 East Tenn. high school football teams advance to state finals

The Cherokees have their community buzzing and with good reason.

“At the beginning of the season we didn’t play as a team. We were a bunch of individuals. And once we realized that being individuals didn’t win football games, we banded together and started playing as a team,” said senior Tucker Brown.

This team of young men has Greenback on the cusp of it’s first title in nearly three decades, but they’re not getting caught in the moment ahead of their Blue Cross Bowl showdown with Nashville Christian.

“They have some good athletes, but we’re going to prepare to win the game. We’re not just going to show up. We’re not just satisfied with being there,” said Kilpatrick.

Historically, Greenback’s had a ton of success, but heartbreak in the postseasons, too.

“Coalfield’s beat us in the quarterfinals four years in a row, so we called it the third round curse. But we got past that curse and we’re here now,” said senior Devin Devine.

Over the hump and 40 minutes from a state title, these Cherokees take aim at one final prize, with an entire community behind them.

“The old saying that people say is the greatest place to be is Greenback, Tennessee. And that’s kind of funny to say that, but a lot of people believe that’s true. And this football team is a big part of the community and I’m just proud to be a part of it,” said co-head coach Greg Ryan.

The school held a pep rally Thursday afternoon with players, the band, cheerleaders and classmates getting everybody revved up.

“It’s always awesome to have the whole school in front of you cheering on your team and knowing that tomorrow is the big show,” said middle linebacker Jaden Harris.

“The boys, the football team, they’ve worked really hard since all the coaches have been changing and everything they’ve worked very hard for this,” said 10th grader Haley Summers.

Greenback and Nashville Christian play at noon Friday.

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