The road wasn’t easy for the Lake City Mavericks during the 2012 Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Classic.
After the tournament combined the 8U Central and National divisions, the competition became even greater for the Turkey Bowl.
If a team was to lose in the first round of the 8U National division, it would fall into the Central division with hopes of winning a championship in that league.
However, after a 13-6 victory on Thursday night, the Mavs were looking to face off with the big dogs.
“It’s like Rocky Top,” head coach Matt Elliott said. “You’re playing those traveling teams. You only get better by playing those better teams. I don’t like to fall down into the loser’s bracket and play weaker teams. I prefer to play the stronger teams to make us better.”
On Thanksgiving Day, Lake City took a 6-0 deficit to the halftime locker rooms. With hopes of making their name in the National Division, however, the Mavs came out strong on defense for the second half.
“We came back out, and we got momentum going,” Matt Elliott said. “We never gave up another first down the rest of the night. It was a big thing for those kids and a big confidence booster for them. They were really excited about going in to play the next day’s game.”
Skylar Clawson had a career moment during the game, as he scored his first touchdown.
“I was really proud of him,” Matt Elliott said. “He was really excited about that.”
Playing a tough Glen Este Trojan team from Ohio, fresh off of a 13-0 victory over Cleremont, the Mavericks saw hard times.
An opening play, 65-yard touchdown run by the Trojans put Lake City in a hole early, 7-0.
The Columbus team would later score on plays of 10, 28, 40, and 33 yards.
“I just don’t think the kids were awake, to be honest with you,” Matt Elliott said. “They weren’t as rambunctious as they were about Thursday’s game.”
The Mavericks lost their first game of the tournament, 32-0 in the second round.
With the loss, Lake City was forced to the consolation game against the Columbus Bucks to see who would take the third place trophy.
Zach Elliott had a good game during the consolation contest. He finished with a game high 15 tackles for the Mavericks.
Koby Hamilton had a tough game on Saturday. He left the contest against the Bucks with an injury.
“I had a player, Toby,” Matt Elliott said. “He left the game Saturday with a broken foot. I’m really proud of him. He fought this weekend.”
Just as in the Battle in Rocky Top, Calob Osborne had a big weekend. According to his head coach, Osborne found himself with tackles in the backfield quite often.
“He had about three or four sacks over the weekend,” Matt Elliott said. “I was really proud of him as well.”
However, it wasn’t enough on Saturday. The Columbus team posted 19 points, as the Mavericks failed to score.
Lake City would take home the fourth place trophy, after playing in a much tougher division than they were originally placed.
“It’s better to go out with a trophy for fourth place than it is to go out with nothing,” Matt Elliott said. “The kids still held their heads high, and I was proud of the kids. I was really proud of them. We only had four weeks with those kids to get prepared for Rocky Top and the Turkey Bowl. I was proud of those kids.”