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Saturday Morning Quarterback
Dec 02, 2012 12:00 am
Former LHS coaches strike gold at Gordonsville
At a Trousdale County-Watertown basketball game about a decade ago, current WHS principal Jeff Luttrell, then the Tigerettes' coach who had previously coached in Hartsville, was talking to Yellow Jackets football coach Clint Satterfield about his team's playoff game the previous week.
The Yellow Jackets were in a low-scoring dogfight at Knoxville Fulton. At some point, Satterfield passed on a field-goal attempt on fourth down. The gamble failed and Trousdale lost.
Responding to Luttrell's questioning, Satterfield said something to the effect a game like that could only be won by scoring touchdowns, not kicking field goals.
Watching Gordonsville and Huntingdon duke it out in a slugfest in Friday's Class 1A BlueCross Bowl, it occurred to me one of these coaches may well pass up an extra point and gamble for the lead with a two-point try.
Sure enough, Gordonsville scored a touchdown to pull within 14-13 midway through the fourth quarter when Tigers coach Ron [Moose] Marshall unveiled his inner Tom Osborne and went for two. The gamble failed, and though Moose showed no expression for the TV camera on the sideline, his heart had to have sunk into his stomach.
The next move was more obvious, an onside kick, which Gordonsville recovered. Through a series of clutch performances on both sides, one of which included Huntingdon coach Eric Swenson gambling for a two-point try himself that failed, the Tigers emerged with a 21-20 victory and their first championship since 1984.
Had Moose and Swenson played the percentages all the way through, Huntingdon would probably have led 21-14 with Gordonsville fighting the clock to re-tie the score.
I know a lot of guys in Lebanon who are in their 30s and 40s were happy to see the Tigers take home the gold ball. Marshall was Lebanon's defensive coordinator from 1987-93 and head coach from '98-'01. His offensive coordinator, Mark Medley, was the Gordonsville coach when it took its '84 crown. He holds the Lebanon record with 64 victories from '87-'93 as LHS made the playoffs all seven seasons in the school's last extended run of gridiron glory.
Now that his Blue Devil players are in the midst of their professional careers and busy raising children of their own, they remember the lessons he and Moose taught. Medley's name has even been rumored in connection with the current LHS coaching vacancy. No doubt, the Blue Devils of the late '80s and early '90s would like to see him back on the sideline, this time at the new Clifton Tribble Field/Danny Watkins Stadium.
Those guys love Medley just as older generations revere the legendary Clifton Tribble, who died earlier this year.
Moose and Medley haven't changed a whole lot, football-wise, over the years. Marshall, who in his final year at LHS survived a bout with cancer which was discovered after he fell off a scaffold next to his garage, still runs the 50 defense. Medley has expanded his playbook to include the spread, which was the Tigers' primary attack in previous years but just a bit part of the offense this season. It wasn't around during his LHS era. But he still has his quarterbacks use the cadence to draw defenses offsides. He'll still run the QB sneak and break big gainers, even in situations which wouldn't necessarily call for it.
The Blue Devils of that era are happy for their old coaches, as well as special coach Michael King, who Medley took under his wing 25 years ago and has stayed around the football programs of LHS, Watertown or Gordonsville since.
The players only wish the coaches had gotten their championship 20 years ago, when it would have been Lebanon basking in the glory.
One of those old Blue Devils will get a shot at his second title this morning. Jody Atwood was Lebanon's center at the end of the Medley era. He's now the offensive line coach at Friendship Christian, which goes for its second straight 2A championship at 11 a.m. today against Adamsville at Tennessee Tech's Tucker Stadium.
Should the Commanders repeat, it'll give Region 4-A two champions in the same season, a byproduct of the often discussed, cussed and confusing Plan Z playoff system implemented four years ago. Incidentally, Friendship's only loss came at Gordonsville 28-21 way back in Week 2.
For years, folks around here have thought Region 4-A, with Gordonsville, Friendship and Trousdale County, was the toughest in Class A. The Commanders can prove it today. And it'll take touchdowns to do it.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952, ext. 17; or by email at email@example.com