Beating Fulton no easy task for Gatlinburg-Pittman

Sep. 20, 2013 @ 01:58 PM

 Benny Hammonds knows the magnitude of the task his Gatlinburg-Pittman football team faces tonight against Fulton.

The Falcons have played 7-on-7 in the summer with the Highlanders and while both teams are 4-0, the G-P coach doesn’t hesitate to give Fulton the edge in strength of schedule.

“If we had played the same schedule as Fulton we’d possibly be 0-4,” Hammonds said. “Anytime you can beat good teams by that margin, that’s telling you something.”

G-P will be up against it tonight in Knoxville playing a Falcons team that has averaged more than 50 points per game while giving up a total of seven. It’s an astounding record.

Fulton coach Rob Black, whose dad Bob played in college with Hammonds, said he’s a little surprised at the margin of victory the Falcons have piled up early in the season. Seemingly the only area Fulton has consistently fell short? Time of possession.

“We’re losing bad in time of possession,” Black said. “But I guess that’s a good thing because we’ve hit a lot of home runs, too.”

Hammonds said there’s no magic formula against a team like that. The Highlanders (4-0) aren’t about to alter their approach or make any wholesale defensive changes. The best thing they can do is control the clock and keep Fulton (4-0) stuck on the sidelines.

“They got a lot of speed,” said G-P quarterback Tanner Cox. “We’re going to have to run it up the middle on them probably. I haven’t seen this good of a team in a while. They’re going to be pretty good. It’s going to be a challenge for us. But we’re up for it.”

The Falcons have punished teams since opening with a 46-0 win over Powell on Aug. 22. The scores? 52-0, 63-0 and 55-7. These weren’t against weak opponents, but Knoxville powers Bearden, Austin-East and Farragut. It’s why Hammonds believes his team would be lucky to just get a win against Fulton’s early schedule.

“They’ve got a tremendous amount of speed at every position,” Hammonds said. “That’s the key to their success. They’re mostly seniors. A lot of experience from that state championship team. Add that with a good coaching staff that’s won three or four state championships in the last decade. That speed, experience, confidence they have, you’re facing the real deal.”

Bruising tailback Michael Muszik said win or lose, tonight’s game represents the ultimate measuring stick. If the Highlanders can have success against one of the state’s very best, then maybe a deep playoff run looms.

Of course, having success and winning are two different things. Muszik and his teammates will try to widen that Fulton time-of-possession deficit to give themselves a chance. That will require some strong play on the offensive line.

It may not be enough.

“It just takes your best game all season,” Muszik said. “It’s going to have to be our best game all year.”