The Mitchell High School Tigers ended last season with a 6-5 record, losing to Trinity Christian Academy (Jackson, Tenn) in a heartbreaking 19-15 struggle on their home field.
It was the latest in a string of first-round playoff exits, but this year, the team’s goal is to finish further. This season Mitchell wants to host a playoff game en route to a state championship.
“We have got to go further this season,” said Mitchell Head Coach Nate Cole. “I have seven seniors with one starting on offense and four starting on defense. My offensive line is the very good. One of our leaders on offense is Emmanuel Wallace the returning leading receiver.”
Cole has an experienced team coming back and hopes to keep everyone healthy for the entire season. Last year, the team lost its starting quarterback to an early season-ending injury and depended on the running game.
This year’s defense will be led by top linebackers Brandon Armstrong and Damien Johnson. Defensive coach Larry Fitzgerald will be tasked with creating more turnovers and assisting the front line in stopping the run. Fitzgerald, who played for Cole in 2009 before playing for MTSU and University of Memphis, wants to energize Mitchell’s defensive approach.
“I am always hyped when it comes to making big plays and big hits,” he said. “I look forward to Armstrong leading the defense. He has been here for three years and he knows football. I feel he is going to lead us to a state championship.
“In order to advance in the playoffs, it will take some blood, sweat and tears,” Fitzgerald added. “If you put forward a little effort, you can go a long way.”
“I just want to step up and be a leader for the team,” Armstrong added. “In order to go further in the playoffs, we need to stay disciplined. My job is to keep everyone on the same page and focused.”
Johnson echoed the sentiment.
“Everybody is sleeping on us and we have to wake them up,” Johnson said. “In order to get past the first round, we need to stay focused at the right time. We have to remain humble and dedicated in order to be successful.”
Running back Wallace on the upcoming season pledges to correct errors in his game from last season.
“I am going to work hard and stay focused on the season,” Wallace said. “I want to fix some mistakes I have made in order to make our team better. There were some small things that kept us from going further last season:”.
Wide receiver Joseph Adams said, “I want to bring a lot of energy to the team. When we play with that energy, it helps us to do the things we need to do. I am willing to do whatever it takes for us to be successful”.
The Tigers open the season as part of the Whitehaven Classic at 3 p.m. on Sat. August 24 at Whitehaven Stadium where they will face the Westwood Longhorns.