This season, the senior utility player has the potential of being one of the top performers in Northeast Tennessee and looks to lead his Hampton teammates back to the promised land.
“Isaiah is probably going to be the best athlete on the field for us this year. He’s a phenomenal athlete,” Hampton head coach Michael Lunsford said. “He’s learned a lot and gotten stronger to improve his game over four years. It’s really been a blessing to watch him grow.”
Said Greenwell: “(The seniors) have great chemistry and we’ve played together all four years. We know how each of us reacts and we have our timing down. I think that’s what is going to make us very competitive this year.”
Greenwell is listed on the roster as a running back and wide receiver, but his athletic build of six feet and 170 pounds allows him to play anywhere in the offensive backfield — and he could see some snaps at quarterback.
“I think I’m a little bit more elusive and I get through small holes in the line,” he said. “When I get in the open field, I’m hard to catch.”
The Bulldogs finished 5-6 last season with, culminating in a 7-6 loss at home against Rockwood. It still sits with the dozen seniors and has been the off-season fuel to try to get back to the Hampton’s accustomed level of winning.
“It was a tough loss, but it lit a fire under us,” Greenwell said. “We’re going to show everybody that we’re the team to be competed with. We’ve come ready to work all summer.”
“Having a kid like Isaiah on the team is special because if anyone on the team goes down with an injury, we have a guy that can instantly fill the spot,” Lunsford said. “He could play quarterback for a lot of different teams and he can be a lock-down cornerback on defense. The problem is trying to get him reps at all the different positions to where he’s comfortable with it. He’s a great athlete and he can do so many things naturally, so he doesn't really have to get a whole lot of work in to be good at one position.
“Seeing his growth has been unbelievable. When he first came out as a freshman, you knew he could be a good athlete, but we didn’t know where he’d fit. He’s grown up both as a man and as a football player. We’re excited to have him and we’re glad he’s on our team.”
Hampton is in one of the toughest conference in all of Tennessee, not just in Region 1. The conference is log jammed at the top this season with teams like Sullivan North, Happy Valley, South Greene and Hampton. The Bulldogs haven’t been past the second round since 2015, when they lost to Marion County in the Class 2A semifinals. They haven't been out of the first round since 2016, defeating Sweetwater.
If anything, the ’Dogs are due for a good season in the fall of 2019.
Hampton opens the season with three consecutive games on the road, beginning with Gatlinburg-Pittman on Aug. 23 followed by trips to Unicoi County and Happy Valley, respectively. The first home game won’t be until Sept. 13 against Cloudland. It will be the first of two editions of the classic Carter County rivalry this season as the two will meet again on Oct. 11 in Roan Mountain.
“It’s unique, but back when I played, Cloudland and Hampton played each other twice a year,” Lunsford said. “It’s such a good game for the communities and such a good gate for both schools. It helps both programs get funding and run. It helps both teams in that aspect because it’s hard to get good gate and keep the game competitive.”