SEVIERVILLE — Sevier County is coming off a big win versus Halls two weeks ago, and after a bye week, they hope to build on that momentum this week in another region contest.
A winless Heritage (0-7 overall, 0-3 in 5A region 2) team comes to town with an upset on their mind, but Sevier County hopes to hold steady down the stretch in order to have a chance at improving their playoff seeding.
The Smoky Bears (4-3 overall, 1-2 in 5A Region 2) expect a four quarter physical game from a Mountaineers’ team who plays hard, but they hope their experience and talent takes over to lead them to a victory down the stretch.
With the game being on Thursday, both teams are coming off an open week, and Sevier County head coach can’t wait for his team to put the pads on and play again.
“It can’t get here quick enough. We have had few extra practices on the week off, and we aren’t in school on Friday,” he said. “We had several games where we weren’t in school, but you want your student body here on the day of the game, because it is a part of the game day experience. It works out, and I like Thursday games anyway. To me, the longest part of the season is the few hours before kickoff.”
Sevier County hopes to lean on their playmakers on offense in quarterback Collin Shannon and wideout Corbin Overbay in addition to running backs Garrett Hawkins, Jace Henderson and Bryson Lane, and the hope is that one or more of them has a big day leading them to even their region record.
The off week gave the Smoky Bears a chance to reflect and work on themselves, and they believe that they self scouted themselves enough to find things to improve on for the rest of the year.
“We always work about ourselves, but more so than any other week, the bye week was back to the fundamentals,” Loveday said. “When the season gets started and you get in game planning mode, you don’t have time to look up. It was a good chance for coaches and players to scout ourselves and prioritize what we need to do to go on a big run the rest of the year.”
While the stretch run is here, Heritage is the first of three critical games to ensure that Sevier County is playing their best football come postseason time.
Instead of expanding their playbook and throwing different wrinkles at opponents, the Smoky Bears are trying to perfect what they do, and they hope that they can achieve their goal starting with beating Heritage on Thursday.
“We have to keep it simple and maximize what we think we do the best,” Loveday said. “There is no tool better than repetition. Although in a game to fans or whoever it may look like we are doing a bunch of different things, but we want to keep it simple and instead of adding on offensively or defensively, it is more of a narrowing down to put our kids in position to make plays ... I’d rather have five plays and run them all correct than 15 and run half of them right.”