Dresden trying to check illness off Hewett’s list
Posted: Friday, December 2, 2011 6:28 am
Dresden football head coach Scott Hewett heads into Saturday’s Class 2A state championship knowing there will be distractions to confront.
Hewett has already planned for some. Others just pop up.
Hewett, his staff and the players are already caught in the middle of one of those unexpected distractions — illness.
About half a dozen players and some coaches are being treated for strep throat, while several others were tested for the illness earlier in the week.
Hewett went into this week already set with a list of things to address, including weather, travel and game time.
“We’re going to be spending the night up there,” Hewett said. “They’re going to be in a motel room, and being in a strange bed can sometimes make it hard to get a good night’s sleep.
“We’ll be playing at noon with the sun shining, and we’re not used to that. I’ve been part of teams that played an afternoon game, and we always seemed to start slow. We’ll have to get over that. We need to start fast and finish fast.”
The weather forced Dresden to change its practice plans, but that was not much of a problem.
Taking advantage of the hospitality of Obion County Central High School, where former Lion head coach Craig Rogers is the athletic director, Dresden got out of the elements on Monday and Tuesday and practiced inside the Rebel football program’s indoor facility.
The artificial turf at Tennessee Tech’s Tucker Stadium shouldn’t be much of an adjustment, either. The Lions have played and practiced on the turf at UT Martin, running practice sessions there both Wednesday and today.
The Lions will hit the road on Friday and, in an attempt to avoid losing a full day of practice, Hewett plans on stopping along the way to get in a workout.
COMPLETE TURNAROUND: The current senior class at Dresden is enjoying the highest peak high school football has to offer.
It’s been a long trip in four years.
As freshmen, that group began their prep careers at the very bottom as Dresden suffered through an 0-10 season.
It was Hewett’s first season back in charge, and his health problems were among the many problems the team was forced to deal with during that disastrous 2008 season.
Since then, though, the Lions have steadily risen to one of the top programs in West Tennessee.
Dresden posted a 7-4 record in 2009, opening the season with a 34-12 win over Greenfield and ending with a 51-21 win over Jackson County in the Cumberland River Bowl.
It was that win over Greenfield, which broke a losing streak of 19 games, the players say put the program back on track.
“Once we won a game,” said Eric VanDyke, pointing out when the program began to turn around. “Once we started winning, things started changing.”
Changes in Hewett’s coaching staff played a big part as well.
“We had harder practices,” said Colin Kanehl, referring to a new staff that brought in a new approach in 2009. “There was not a lot for us to do as freshmen. But, the next year, there was more organization, and the coaches seemed to know what they were doing.”
Dresden was 9-3 last season, reaching the second round of the state playoffs.
The rise of a program has not been quite so dramatic at Friendship Christian, but the players there have long memories, too.
Several seniors on the current team were seventh-graders when the Commanders lost 19-13 to Jackson Christian in the 1A state championship game.
Getting back has been the goal, fueled more by losses in the second game of the playoffs each of the past four years.
“It’s what we practice for and work for in the off-season,” FCS head coach John McNeal said. “We keep that in their heads when they’re lifting and working in the summer.”
EXTRA POINTS: Should Dresden win on Saturday, it would give the Lions five playoff wins this season, equaling the team’s number of playoff wins in all its previous 14 trips combined. Dresden is now 9-14 in the state playoffs. Friendship Christian, meanwhile, is now 20-19 in 19 playoff appearances. … Media Day for the BlueCross Bowl can bring its share of funny moments, like what happened at the Dresden table. Former Tennessee Titans’ players Blaine Bishop and Kevin Dyson, who will be working with the TSSAA Network on game broadcasts, went unrecognized by a few of the Lions’ players in attendance. Bishop did find out, though, that he looks like current Titan Courtland Finnegan. … Forgive Milan head coach Jeff Morris if his thoughts are on two other state championship games in addition to his own. Morris and the Bulldogs will play Christian Academy of Knoxville in the 3A finals 3:30 p.m. Friday. His cousin, Joe Morris will try to lead Mayfield to is second straight Kentucky state title and ninth overall Friday. Henry County, where Jeff served as an assistant, is playing for the TSSAA 5A state title following Milan’s game.
Published in The WCP 12.1.11