published Monday, November 15th, 2010

Gossett: Signal's Price says 'Nobody panicked'

Hey, somebody plunk those guys at Signal Mountain in the ribs, make sure they're awake and then emphasize to them that they're in the playoffs.

Fellas, surely you've figured it out by now, especially considering that heart-squeezing first-round loss last year at Cascade, there is no coasting in the postseason unless it's the first week and you have a bye.

OK, so you had a first-week bye then and now.

Still, somebody relaxed on the mountain. The Eagles had a 35-14 halftime lead over visiting Friendship Christian and saw it dissolve before their disbelieving eyes. They finally won 56-43.

It's hard not to relax with a schedule where your team induced the 35-point lead mercy rule in at least eight of your 11 wins, where you had a point-a-minute offense that could have been twice that if the starters played more than two quarters in just three of those 11 games. That schedule, by the way, included a couple of Class 4A teams and four teams that qualified for the playoffs, so don't criticize Eagles coach Bill Price for poor scheduling.

"The thing about us is that we don't use a lot of clock. We're a big play offense," Price said Sunday evening after having time to reflect on his club's narrow escape. "I don't think we felt we had it won. I think they made some big plays and we answered. It was back and forth. But I can't emphasize enough that they are a really good football team."

For the record, Friendship had allowed 86 points entering their game at Signal. Still, Price feels if there is a lesson to be learned it is to keep your foot on the accelerator and that defense is indeed what wins championships.

"You score 50 you feel that should be enough to win. We played pretty well offensively and not so well defensively. We have to play better defensively and we have to remember always that it's a four-quarter game," he said.

Price reverted to his bottom-line philosophy.

"There wasn't anything to get nervous about last week. The kids handled it well. Nobody panicked. Friendship cut it to 7 and we got it to 14. They cut it to 7 and tied it up and then went up, and we answered," he said.

Price said more than once before last Friday that Friendship Christian was good and that the Commanders would be a challenge. But then Bill had murmured the very same thought before any number of the Eagles' games this year.

This time, though, he isn't crying wolf and his players better pay heed in preparing for a playoff-savvy team where postseason and tradition go hand-in-hand.

"Trousdale County is a team similar to Friendship in that they are a very physical team. We will definitely be challenged again."

Signal isn't the only Chattanooga-area team going on the road this week as Tennessee's playoffs continue.

Boyd-Buchanan, an upset winner at Hampton, remains on the road. The Buccaneers will be at Wartburg Central.

Surprising Copper Basin, which won over favored Sunbright, will play at Coalfield, the team the Cougars bounced from the playoffs in last year's first round.

South Pittsburg will be at home against Gordonsville, a long-time postseason rival, and Baylor will be at home against Battle Ground Academy, a team it beat 33-21 earlier this season.

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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