By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Cherokee Braves went to Hayesville this weekend and came away with a win – no big surprise there. Ok, so, that now sets up an opportunity for the Braves to win the outright Smoky Mountain Conference Championship with a win over Murphy this Friday night.
There’s a lot on the line this Friday – the SMC championship, a perfect regular season, and a chance to get a really good seeding for the upcoming state playoffs which means more home games and less traveling.
That being said, I implore everyone to treat the members of the Cherokee Braves football team the same this week as if it were just any other week. Don’t ask them about the upcoming game. Don’t ask them what they think their playoff seed will be. And, please, don’t even think about bringing up a possible state championship…just don’t.
Nick Saban has won five national championships in his illustrious coaching career. Admittedly, he’s not my favorite coach, but he does win. He’s been quoted as saying, “We’re not going to talk about what we’re going to accomplish, we’re going to talk about how we’re going to do it.”
Cherokee can beat Murphy this Friday. They can get a top seed in the playoffs, and most of us feel they really can win a state championship this season.
But, don’t make the players talk about any of that.
This week, the players need to concentrate on executing Coach Kent Briggs’ game plan. They need to concentrate on school. They need to concentrate on eating their mom’s beans and cornbread. They need to concentrate on anything other than the questions I’ve mentioned.
My favorite coach of all time, the late Vince Lombardi, once said, “Teams do not go physically flat, they go mentally stale.”
It’s easy for players, especially at the high school level, to get caught up in the hype of a game or even the hype of a season. That’s why it is especially important for them to take it one game at a time and not get ahead of themselves.
After the Braves’ key conference win against Robbinsville, Coach Briggs told me he is stressing to his team the importance of all games and not just one “big” game. When I asked him about the upcoming Hayesville game, he noted, “We’ll enjoy this victory here for a day or two. But, come Monday, we’ll have to get ourselves ready for Hayesville. We’re going there, and we can’t be looking ahead.”
Well, they did get ready for Hayesville. And, I’m sure his players aren’t looking too far ahead even if the rest of us are chomping at the bit for the remainder of this special season.