Greeneville’s win over Maplewood in the Class 4A state football championship game was so utterly dominant, one of the first questions head coach Caine Ballard faced after the game was: Can your team do it again next year?
There really wasn’t much reason to ask how the Greene Devils beat the Panthers on Saturday.
After two possessions for each team, it was pretty clear Greeneville was going to have little trouble moving the football.
By game’s end at Tucker Stadium in Cookeville, the 37-0 score said it all. That comes on the heels of a 60-12 win last season over Memphis Trezevant.
“The scores of those two games are really amazing to me,” said Ballard. “I don’t have the answer to why the semifinal games each year were tighter. But I do think the result this year had a lot to do with us having been there before.”
In 2009, Greeneville lost 21-14 in the title game to Giles County. And the answer to that next-year question might be answered by the Pulaski school.
Greeneville avenged the 2009 loss in this year’s semifinals, beating Giles 42-21. However, it was tied 21-21 in the third quarter. It can be said that the semifinal match-up was really the Class 4A state title game.
If Greeneville wants to think about a threepeat, Giles is likely the team the Greene Devils would have to go through. The Bobcats’ roster was littered with underclassmen, including quarterback Al Cobb and playmaker Kenton Baker.
In fact, Giles would probably be the early favorite to win the 2012 crown.
“That wouldn’t make me mad at all,” said Ballard. “I would just as soon be the underdog all year. We’re losing a lot of seniors and guys who won 51 games in four years.”
Greeneville graduates 10 of 11 starters from a defense that has roughed people up for two seasons.
Most notably, the Greene Devils graduate two Mr. Football finalists, Jamel Hall and Terrell Rollins, from that side of the ball.
But the guys coming back want to make their mark, said Ballard.
“Nobody wants to let the school or community down,” said Ballard. “They won’t be near as experienced, but they will be hungry.”
Quarterback Tanner Stewart, a junior who was the BlueCross Bowl offensive most valuable player, said the players believe they can do it.
“Anything is possible if you work hard,” said Stewart.
And one thing Greeneville doesn’t lose is Ballard and his coaching staff. Ballard has gone above excellence in his three seasons as head coach.
The Greene Devils are not just consistent, they are ridiculously consistent. They have scored 35 points or more in all but three of their last 30 games.
One of those was a 10-point effort against Morristown West early this season, the only loss for the Greene Devils in the last two years. But that loss became very important, said Ballard.
“We’re a play away from being on a 30-game winning streak,” said Ballard. “But I think this stuff might not have happened if we had won that game against West. It’s hard to say. There are a lot of factors that go into things.”