Austin-East is a 'must-win' for Pigeon Forge
Scott Meadows hasn’t wavered this season.
The coach has always said when his Pigeon Forge football team plays with full effort, it’s pretty good. The Tigers were short of that standard last week at Chuckey-Doak.
“No effort, no emotion,” Meadows said. “There was a lot of soul searching done over the weekend. This week in practice, I think we got their attention.”
Time is running out for the Tigers (3-4, 1-2 District 3-AA) who face Austin-East (1-6, 0-3) in Knoxville tonight at 7:30 in what Meadows calls a “must-win” game. Pigeon Forge is stuck below .500 with just three games left after surrendering a fourth-quarter lead in the Black Knights’ 28-27 victory last Friday.
But this is a short week and the Tigers had to quickly turn their focus from that sour loss.
“(The short week) helped us get our minds off the Chuckey-Doak game and helped us focus on Austin-East and getting into the playoffs,” said quarterback Tanner Sharp. “We’ve played a lot better than our record shows but that’s going to happen. We just can’t hang our heads on what happened in the past.”
That leaves Pigeon Forge preparing for a Roadrunners team that probably feels the same way. Austin-East has just one victory in seven games but the combined record of the Roadrunners’ opponents is 41-12. Five of those teams are undefeated or have one loss.
Austin-East is a team predicated on speed at the skill positions, like receiver Jaquail Williams who had 77 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago against Gatlinburg-Pittman. But rain in tonight’s forecast could help negate some of that swift skill Pigeon Forge is trying to slow down.
“It’s harder for them to make their cuts, move back and forth and that sort of thing (in the rain),” Meadows said. “We’re more of a straight-ahead type team. They rely more on the cuts. It’ll be an interesting ball game.”
Whatever the weather, this isn’t a team the Tigers can overlook.
“You go into every game like you’re playing the state championship,” said sophomore Noah Whaley. “That’s how much every game has to mean to you for you to actually give the effort to win. You can’t underestimate anybody, ever.”