For the last couple years, Roane County's football program has been trying to restore the roar the community had enjoyed in previous seasons.
The Raiders took the initial step last year, going 9-3 and winning the first playoff game in the history of the consolidated school that opened in 1993.
This year, eighth-seeded Roane (8-2) will be hosting its first-ever postseason game when it welcomes No. 9 Oak Glen (9-1) to Spencer at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
"We've never done that before,'' said coach Paul Burdette, "and it's been our goal all year. Last year, we missed by a little bit [as the No. 9 seed].
"Our guys have really been focused on the task at hand this year. They've been working their butts off every day in practice. They come to practice ready to work every day and never complain. They never say, 'Man, this is ridiculous.' They're a hard-working group of guys.''
Roane is trying to get back to the success turned in by Spencer High in the early 1990s before it merged with Walton. Spencer reached the Class AA title game in back-to-back seasons (1990-91), winning it all in 1991.
"We've taken it one game at a time,'' Burdette said. "I know a lot of people say that, but our guys truly believe in it. They haven't looked ahead to anybody. They know there's no need to look forward without taking care of what's in front of you, because then the rest of our goals don't come to fruition.''
Gone, not forgotten
Hurricane coach Willis May thinks it's a reflection of the mentality of senior receiver Ben Fletcher, who continues to be a part of the team even after suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Fletcher needed surgery a few weeks ago to repair the damage after playing in less than 11/2 games for the Redskins this season.
"He's still there every day at practice,'' May said recently, "and he still goes out there [for the pregame coin toss] as one of our captains. But it kills him every game not to be playing, and it hurts our heart to watch him.
"He's a special player, and I hope he rehabs that [injury] and it heals up and he gets an opportunity to play somewhere else next year. He's a tough kid and he works hard. I hope he can get back to football because he loves it and he's good at it.''
Out of the ashes
Logan's football team from two seasons ago has been a topic of conversation around the county fairly often these days. But not because of its success.
The Wildcats went just 1-9 in 2009, which makes this year's 8-2 record and No. 4 seed in the Class AAA playoffs all the more unexpected. However, coach Gary Mullins said that 2009 squad taught his current players plenty of valuable lessons.