RINGGOLD, Ga. -- All great productions have a star who at any given moment can steal the show. They also have a strong supporting cast that enables the star to shine.
The successful production that is the 2013 Ringgold High School football team fits the mold. It has its star in senior quarterback Slade Dale, who has eclipsed the 3,000-yard mark in total offense this season, but Dale's support group is what has turned this Tigers team into a sudden contender for a state title.
Junior Kile Sholl has accounted for more than 1,300 total yards and 15 touchdowns, while D.L. Goins has emerged as a backfield complement with 662 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns and receiver Christian Plott has 500 yards and five scores. It's a group coach Robert Akins says is as unselfish as it is talented.
"When we break a huddle, we have always said, '1-2-3 Family,'" Akins said, "and I've had a lot of guys where that didn't really mean anything. With this group, and those three guys are a perfect example, it means everything. I don't believe there is a selfish bone in their bodies. They're all competitors and they all want to do well individually, but they also know there are nights when it's just not going to happen for them and someone else is going to have to pick up the slack.
"None of them cares who gets the individual glory as long as the team wins."
Within an offense that's averaging better than 40 points per game, there is plenty of glory to go around. Each of the key supporting players has taken his turn in the two playoff wins, which happen to be the first postseason victories in the long history of Ringgold football. Plott had two touchdown catches against North Hall, including a one-handed grab that is already being called one of the best catches in school history, and then Sholl and Goins took control against Cedar Grove last week with 100 yards each and a score.
Each is relishing the accomplishments -- of the team and what it means to the community.
"It means a lot, not as much a personal thing, but because we're making history for the city of Ringgold and we're putting this city on the football map," said Goins, who also starts on defense.
Added Sholl: "Getting to this point means everything. Coming into the season we knew we could do something special, and now we're making history game by game. I'm sure there are some doubters out there, but not on this team."
As they sail into uncharted playoff waters, these Tigers have proven to be resilient and quick to learn. That trait was first seen back in mid-September when Friday night's opponent, Central-Carroll, humbled Ringgold with a 19-15 win at Don Patterson Stadium. The Tigers, coming off impressive opening wins over Dalton and crosstown rival Heritage, committed several miscues in losing, and a Hail Mary pass inside the final minute led to the winning Central score.
"We didn't play well the first time and we felt we should have won it, but it shows you everything happens for a reason, and we lost to them then so we could beat them in the playoffs," Sholl said. "If we just play our game and wrap up on defense, we'll be all right."
Though they hope the final chapter won't be written for a few weeks, each of the supporting Tigers has a real sense of what the team has accomplished.
"I expect us to come out Friday and put it all on the line and leave the field with no regrets," Plott said. "It's always awesome to say you've won a state playoff game and to say we've gotten further than any other team in school history, but we're not finished yet."
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...