Asked in the preseason what had to happen for the Silverdale Baptist Academy football team to be successful, quarterback Spencer Mossburg replied, "We have to continue to work hard and get better every day, play for each other ... trusting the guy next to you."
Center Kendall Shoemaker, now in his fifth year as a starter, said the same day, "As long as we've got 11 guys out there willing to give it their all on every play, we can win ballgames. We just need to focus on the task at hand."
Silverdale is 9-1, the District 5-A runner-up to Boyd-Buchanan and part of the 2012 TSSAA Class 2A playoff field. And the Seahawks, who are headed Friday to play at Hampton (9-1), obviously are very good listeners.
"They do what they do," coach Al Rogers said.
He then proceeded to explain: "Every day at practice they give you a good solid effort. I call them my 'mine mules.' They know hard work, and they support each other. I think of Silverdale Baptist as a blue-collar Christian school. The key word the kids use is 'family.'"
The Seahawks, in their seventh season as TSSAA members, set a school wins record with two games still to play in the regular season. The previous best was in 2007 (7-4).
While some thought after its 2-0 start that Silverdale could have a special season, Rogers wasn't sure until the following week when the Seahawks lost -- were shut out, as a matter of fact -- by Boyd-Buchanan.
"I look at the mistakes we made, yeah, but I left that game feeling we could play with them, and I hope we do [get to play them] again," he said. "The game after that we really started jelling, and I told the kids that we could turn this into a 9-1 season."
It's obvious now that they not only listened but also took to heart his daily preseason post-practice chats.
Attrition has taken its toll. There are only three senior starters left -- Mossburg, Shoemaker and two-way lineman Tyler Gibson -- and Mossburg said early on that this year's juniors had gone from liability to backbone. Still, the seniors are seeing the results of resilience and perseverance tested by 5-5, 2-8 and 4-6 seasons.
Asked how that had maintained their drive and desire to play, Rogers said that was one of the easier questions to answer.
"It's their faith in the Lord," he said. "They know who their strength comes from. They don't settle for complacency. I tell them often to be content with the efforts for that day's practice but don't be satisfied. Those senior guys don't hesitate to give God the glory, and they're not 'rah-rah' guys. They're guys who walk the walk."
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765.
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 ...