A win was all he wanted, and Bill Price had to be considering a deal with the devil after the Eagles opened with a pair of lopsided losses.
All the Signal Mountain coach wanted was one point more than Week 3 opponent Bledsoe County. He got 34 more than he needed as the Eagles rallied from a 7-0 deficit with 42 straight in a 42-7 win over the visiting Warriors.
“We started off terrible, but you got better day by day,” Price told his team after its District 7-AA opening victory. “After that first drive the defense played really well.
“We got better tonight, but we have to get better day by day and week by week.”
The Warriors took the opening drive and methodically swept down the field to take a 7-0 lead on Jeremiah Gilbert’s 3-yard run.
That was the last lead they’d have.
The Eagles made it a 7-7 halftime tie on quarterback Reese Phillips’ 9-yard run and then took off in the second half between the defense leaving Bledsoe on second- and third-and-long situations and the offense beginning to go up-tempo and clicking like Phillips and other veterans have gotten used to.
“The first week we were terrible with no energy. The second week we were mediocre with a little energy,” the senior said. “Tonight the offensive line picked it up, and we executed and began playing like the older guys have gotten used to.”
Receiver and defensive back Chris Abernathy, who came up with a key block on a TD run by Diamez Franklin and two passes broken up on defense, could also tell a difference.
“We’re beginning to play not just as a team but as a family,” he said.
The Eagles went up by 21 in the third quarter on Franklin’s 18-yard run, an 11-yard TD by hard-running Robert Turner and a 31-yard pass from Phillips to Madison Byrd.
Phillips hooked up with Byrd again on an 18-yard pass nine seconds into the final quarter, and Turner’s 9-yard run initiated the mercy rule with 3:13 left in the game.
The defense — led by Elijah Turnage, Abernathy, Franklin and Will Hawkins — limited the Warriors to 150 total yards and only 50 on the ground . They had averaged more than 200 yards per game in its first two outings.
“That was a good team, a physical team and a talented team,” Price said of the Warriors. “They’ve won the district the last two years.”
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 ...