Lions’ Cookeville march spills to others
Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 12:00 pm
By RANDY CAVIN
When it comes to sports in Weakley County, one has to look no further than Dresden High School.
Dresden set the bar a little higher in sports during the 2011-12 school year, culminating with the football team making its first appearance in the state championship game.
The success of the football team definitely had a carryover effect on the other sports programs at Dresden. Both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams had successful seasons, along with the baseball and softball teams.
The Dresden cross country team, a sport not many may have known that Dresden is now participating in, also made strides in its young program. The girls’ squad made it to the state meet for the first in the program’s young history. Chuck West, the athletic director at Dresden, said one boy also made it the state meet, also a first for Dresden.
But it all started with the football team. The Lions went 8-2 in the regular season and then faced a daunting task of having to play on the road during the Class-AA playoffs. And play they did. The Lions became known as the “Road Warriors” during playoffs.
The Lions easily beat McKenzie then squeaked by Humbolt, thanks to the gutsy play from quarterback Gatlin Hatchel.
After the Humbolt game, the Lions had to travel to Memphis to take on Westwood, which proved to be no problem. That left one last hurdle; a trip to Adamsville. The Lions took on the powerhouse Cardinals on their own turf and won 35-19.
The Lions were on their way to the Class 2A BlueCross Bowl. But their opponent was well prepared, and the Lions ended up as runners-up.
“The team stayed focused, gained confidence and expected to win,” West said. “This was a tribute to the coaching staff and players. The more they won the more the community got behind and supported them.”
The Lions made football enjoyable to watch for the fans of Dresden in a season that will be forever remembered. The football team made going to work that much more rewarding for West, and the student body’s excitement grew as the season progressed.
“It was a fun time for all, and it is not something that happens all the time so it makes you appreciate it even more,” West said. “Most every day is a good day to go to work, but the excitement around the school grew throughout the season, and especially as the playoff run started.”
West believes it was that opening-game win that gave the football team the confidence that it could play with any team. Dresden beat Westview 13-2 to begin the season.
“That was a great way to start, and gave the team confidence that it could compete with anyone on the schedule,” he said. “I did not know at that time we would make the run that we did.”
Both basketball teams wanted to prove that football was not the only sport where the school had winners. Both teams had successful regular seasons in the 2011-12 school year, but both came up short in the postseason.
The boys finished with a 22-7 record and made it to the Region 7A quarterfinals. The girls also finished with a 22-7 record and made it to the Region 7A semifinals.
“Both teams had a good year, but both would like to have advanced deeper in post season than they did,” West said.
The boys’ team had some football players on its roster, and they brought the habit of winning with them. West said the confidence of winning on the football field carried over onto the basketball court for the Lions.
The girls’ team had to overcome some adversity at the beginning of the season with their starting point guard Alex Glisson out with a knee injury. But, they still found a way to win with freshman Carrie Hatchel stepping into the role of point guard.
The team rallied around each other and produced a winning atmosphere.
“They pulled together, continued to work hard, and believe in each other,” West said. “They did not make excuses, instead stepped up and got better. The fact that Alex Glisson was determined to rehab and play with a torn ACL, which she did and was an inspiration to all to continue to work hard to be successful.”
The year came to an end with both the baseball and softball teams having good seasons. The baseball team finished short in its goal to make to the regional tournament by going 1-2 in the District 13A tournament.
The softball team, behind the coaching of Stacey Lockhart, finished its season with a loss in the District 13A tournament. The Lady Lions went 18-10 on the season and will have the core of the team back for 2013 with expectations of another great season.
“Both teams made progress throughout the season and finished strong,” West said. “Both have a good amount of returning players that should be helpful next year and in the future.”
A testament to the overall success Dresden had in sports is with the number of athletes who are going to take the next step with their careers in college. Six outstanding athletes will be playing in their chosen sport in various colleges.
“We have six athletes that are going to be playing in college,” West said. “Five will be playing football — Tyler McPeak, Gatlin Hatchel, D.J. Ellis, Eric VanDyke and Colin Kanehl — and Sarah Hatler in cross country. All of these are good people, have been good examples at school, and have excelled in athletics. This is a large number for our school in one year. We wish all of them the best as they continue with their education and athletic careers.” Published in The WCP 6.26.12