The TSSAA state playoffs are an exciting time for sure. For those veteran football fans, the Gallatin (4-5) at Smyrna (7-2) first round matchup offers a little throwback in your red Solo cup for a couple of reasons.
First and foremost, this will be a battle between schools that every football fan recognizes. Having been around for many moons, the Bulldogs and Green Wave both sport long and successful traditions. Growth and development in both Rutherford and Sumner County has led to new schools and a division of talent. However, here we are in 2021 with both being playoff participants.
Past tradition is strong on both sides, but the old school carries a little more perhaps with Smyrna. Using an approach that has always worked in the sport, Bulldog coach Matt Williams wants to run the football on offense and hit people in the mouth on defense. Plugging in different Dogs at various times due to injury, the veteran mentor has wavered little from his simplistic approach.
“It’s pretty simple for us, we want to run the football”, says Williams. “Our offensive line has battled and gotten a lot better as the season has progressed. Our defense has been very good at times but we have had a lot of kids hobbled and hurt. I am very proud of how different kids have stepped up when called upon on both sides of the ball.”
The Dogs have run for over 1500 yards in 2021 with 24 rushing touchdowns. One of the most dangerous runners has been junior Arion Carter (962 yards 16 TDs), but an ankle injury has limited him and has him listed as questionable for the game with the Green Wave. Seniors Daniel LaQuart and Jeremiah Bailey have been instrumental in providing plenty of teeth to the Bulldog defense yet they also have been a little banged up as well.
Injuries are unfortunately part of the game and the throwback players find a way to stay on the field. That will be another throwback the Bulldogs hope to see as they take on a Green Wave squad steeped in tradition.
Kickoff is slated for 7pm on November 5 at Robert Raikes Stadium on the campus of Smyrna high school.