MARYVILLE—On Tuesday night, Campbell County coaches explained what a great player is.
Head coach Justin Price told his team during the huddle what a great player had: ‘great effort,’ ‘mental and physical toughness’ and ‘self-motivation.’
Two of those, Campbell County has down, as Price said the team gives everything they have, while being ‘tough as nails.’
However, self-motivation is something the team needs among the ranks.
“I think it’s so important,” Price said. “I think that’s the next step for our program. Our kids, they’re giving everything they have for us. They give great effort. They’re tough, mentally and physically, but that next step, when you’re changing that culture, it’s got to start from within them. At times, they show it.”
The players understood.
Both Nick Bailey and Corey Phillips agreed self-motivation was an important part of making the team better.
“It’s very important for our team,” Phillips said. “If I’m not self-motivated, Nick’s going to see that, and he’s not going to be motivated. It influences everybody. When you’re motivated, they’ll be motivated.”
“We don’t have to rely on somebody else to get you going,” Bailey said. “If you’re self motivated, you’re going to get the job done, and everybody’s going to follow you.”
Through most of the 7-on-7 scrimmages, Campbell County’s performed.
However, Price knows they could be better.
On Saturday, as Campbell County took on Maryville High School, the team went 14-of-15 through the air.
However, on Tuesday night against Oneida, the team had five drops within the first part of the scrimmage.
“Right now, we’re kind of playing to our level of competition,” Price said. “That’s not taking away from anybody we go against, but when we go against these bigger schools, we start from play one. These other guys, they kind of feel them out. It’s just getting them to understand what it means to bring it every play, no matter if you’re going against Austin East, Maryville or Wartburg. You’ve got to bring the same intensity every play.”
The sentiment goes with the team’s motto for the season, “Finish the Fourth.”
During last season, the team lost numerous games by slim margins in the fourth quarter.
Playing the spring games like it’s the fourth quarter is something the players are focused on.
“We play everything like it’s the fourth quarter,” Bailey said. “If we go with that, I think we’ll be good this year.”
On Saturday, they did just that.
Against Greenback and Jefferson County, the Cougars went 34-for-42 through the air with two dropped passes and two interceptions.
They carried the momentum to Maryville in their final game of the day, putting on an air show.
Performing against Maryville was a confidence booster, according to Bailey.
“We beat up on Maryville pretty good in the 7-on-7,” the linebacker said. “It builds your confidence knowing you’re going good against the best. It’s always good when you go in there and beat up on them.”
Maryville, winning nine state titles in the last 13 years, has been one of the premier teams in Tennessee.
Alcoa ranks in the same standard, as Campbell County travels to Tornado country on Tuesday.
However, playing against Maryville on Saturday is one of the best drawings Campbell County could have picked, according to Price.
“They’ve obviously set the standard, not only in Tennessee, but all over the country, of what high school football should be,” the head coach said. “They execute to a “T” every single play. Their players are where they’re supposed to be. In times, that helps our passing game, because they’re playing defense the way it’s supposed to be played.”
The intimidations didn’t slow the Cougars, as they faced the giants with the fiercest of attacks.
They may have even proved another big dog is in town, according to Phillips.
“It was huge. We came out of the gate strong, and we finished strong. All day, against Jefferson County and Maryville, which I think will be one of the best teams this year—besides us —we played strong. It was huge for us,” Phillips said with a laugh.
For Price, it was a chance to play on the same field with a championship caliber team.
“Just to compete with (Maryville) and be on the same field as Coach (George) Quarles and them, it’s always humbling for us,” Price said. “That’s what a state-championship level program looks like.”