Next man up.
Every football coach preaches it at every level of the sport. And most teams are only as good as their ability to overcome the inevitable adversity of injuries to key personnel at crucial moments.
At least for one Friday night, McCallie School handled to perfection the in-game loss of star junior running back B.J. Harris to an ankle sprain, defeating visiting Christian Brothers 28-6 in the quarterfinal round of the TSSAA Division II-AAA playoffs.
"We've got a lot of depth," Blue Tornado coach Ralph Potter said after watching Gavin Cagle rush for 67 yards and two touchdowns and Eric Rivers run for 100 yards while filling in for Harris.
"Gavin's been playing well all year, and we were able to get Eric loose on a couple of pitches."
Of course, no one had a bigger night for the winners than senior quarterback DeAngelo Hardy, who ran for 114 yards, averaging 11.4 yards a carry, and threw for 45 yards and a touchdown to classmate Thompson Byrd.
"We got back to playing the way we did early in the year," said Potter, whose team won its first eight games but lost twice at the close of the regular season. "Our defense was a lot better tonight."
Indeed, Christian Brothers was more than doubled in total yardage, finishing with 161 yards to McCallie's 374. The difference was especially significant on the ground, where the Blue Tornado prevailed by a 329-91 total.
"We didn't miss a beat," said Rivers, whose biggest contributions before Friday had come at wide receiver. "We've had two tough weeks of practice to get ready for this one."
Added the junior Cagle, who scored two touchdowns in a single game for the first time at McCallie: "We lost focus those last two games. We came out with the same intensity tonight we played with earlier in the year. We've really worked hard in practice the last two weeks."
It wasn't just the offense that shone, however. Nic Robinson and Byrd both made interceptions and defensive lineman Jay Hardy — the recent Auburn commitment — dominated the line of scrimmage.
It all adds up to another week of practice and at least one more game for the Blue Tornado, who will host Ensworth next Friday night at McCallie.
By then, Harris — who scored his 24th touchdown of the season on a 25-yard run early in the first period — likely will be ready to return.
But if not, McCallie proved it can win without him, which is a good thing, because as Potter noted of the remaining playoff teams, "It doesn't get any easier."