Blog: Eagles sideline less crowded to start season

Blog: Eagles sideline less crowded to start season

August 22nd, 2011 by Ward Gossett in Sports - Preps

Signal Mountain coach Bill Price watches a game in this file photo.

Signal Mountain coach Bill Price watches a game...

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

Hooray for Signal Mountain.

The folks on the sidelines for the Eagles' first football game actually belonged there and their fans were not allowed on the field until the Signal and East Hamilton teams had done their postgame handshake routine and departed for opposite ends of the field.

It is a change from last year when so many supporters were on Signal's sidelines and so many students stormed the field with the final buzzer.

The change is a great big step in the right direction. It isn't meant to curb support but rather to encourage sportsmanship.

I recall Ozzie Newsome, the ex-Cleveland Browns star and Hall of Fame member, telling a story of his first game as a pro and how he spiked the ball after his first TD catch. According to Ozzie, he later called and apologized to his college coach, legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant, who always taught him to act like he had been there and done that. In other words, Bryant wanted his players to conduct themselves with class and dignity.

It's the same philosophy Signal coach Bill Price has long employed within his football team -- he's never had a player kicked out of a game for fighting -- and it is a policy that Signal principal Tom McCullough and athletic director Patty Lane are encouraging throughout the school. It is a mindset akin to the golden rule -- do unto others as you would have them do unto you -- and one that hopefully will be reinforced throughout the entire community from newest sixth-grader to eldest parent or grandparent.

Had Signal Mountain students been mindful of that rule, the Eagles might not have had the problem that arose in last year's playoffs at Trousdale County when their mascot determined that he was going to plant the Eagles' flag at midfield in a postgame ceremony.

Had a Signal supporter stopped to think, it is unlikely that the Eagles football team would have gotten a black eye over parent/booster-involved incidents at Baylor two years ago or at their own home during July 7-on-7 scrimmages.

It could have been an action or even some unkind words like those spoken to a visiting team's coach last year when he was told as he walked up to the field with his son in tow in somewhat colorful terms that his team was going to get beat.

There's no place for that, especially in high school sports, where sportsmanship should always be the rule rather than the exception. I firmly believe that a clear majority of high school coaches in this area, including Price, adhere to that mindset. Where coaches often fall short, though, is communicating their sentiments to their parents, students and school supporters.

  • While there were 23 penalty flags at Signal, the Roane County News reports that there was a "phantom" fifth down in Lookout Valley's game with Midway.

  • The Notre Dame-Grace Academy game produced 109 points -- 61 for the Irish.

The 48 put up by Bob Ateca's team is the most for the Golden Eagles since they beat Bledsoe County 54-22 on Sept. 26 in the 2008 season. Notre Dame's 61-point outburst is the school's best since a Jon Keene-coached 1977 team clubbed Ooltewah 78-12 almost a quarter-century ago.

  • His Alcoa team's 21-0 victory Saturday over Cleveland pushed coach Gary Rankin into a tie with Chattanooga legend E.B. "Red" Etter on the state's all-time wins list. According to TSSAA records, Rankin now has 324 wins, tying him for fourth. Brentwood Academy's Carlton Flatt is the all-time leader with 355 wins.

  • Congratulations to Corky Whitlock who on Friday night began his 51st year of broadcasting high school sports in the Cleveland area. Whitlock was recognized at halftime of the Bradley Central/Polk County game.

  • It's win over Cumberland County Friday marked the first time that Bledsoe County has won three straight season openers for the first time since Warrior teams won five straight from 1994-1998.

  • Signal Mountain might have had a better performance but the Eagles were missing one of their top receivers. Jon Patton sat out the first game on orders from Price for what the coach termed "a violation of team rules."

  • Much is expected of Tim McClendon, the transfer who played some at fullback and linebacker for Signal, but he's going to have to learn to play full tilt full-time if he expects to succeed in Price's program.

  • Surgery for Keionta Davis to repair the Red Bank senior lineman's torn ACL was delayed last week and last word from Lions coach Tim Daniels was that Davis should have the surgery this week.

The Lions, by the way, open their season Thursday at Soddy-Daisy, which was soundly defeated (48-0) on Friday night.

  • Kudos to Grundy County and coach Nick Bryant after they pulled off a 21-6 win over Marion County. Is there any other win that means more to the folks in Coalmont?

  • Did you notice, too, that Ricky Holliday got his first win as a head coach when his Meigs County team rallied with a great second half against Upperman? The Tigers won 26-14.

  • If you missed it, Franklin County came to town and left a winner after beating Howard 42-30 and Lookout Valley thumped Midway 42-6.

Contact Ward Gossett at or 423-886-4765.