By MURPHY FAIR
TN High School Football
Football is my favorite sport. It always has been and always will be - especially at the high school level. Covering the game I care for so much is what pays my mortgage and puts food on the table at our home near Readyville.
But when you live in Cannon County, as my wife and I have done for nearly a decade now, you can't help but get caught up in the local excitement that begins in the late fall and doesn't completely end until the state basketball tournaments are held in Murfreesboro in March.
I've known for a long time that Cannon Countians think very highly of their basketball. I was first introduced to the winter fever that spreads through Robert A Harris gymnasium when I lived in Carthage and was the play-by-play voice of Smith County basketball back in the 1980's.
Every basketball fan that calls District 8-AA its home knows how tough it is to make the annual trek to Woodbury. If the action on the hardwood isn't difficult enough, trying to be heard over the Cannon County faithful is next to impossible.
The loyal fans of Lion and Lionette basketball are a big part of the reason that girls coach Michael Dodgen has remained at the helm of the program for 10 years. Basketball runs in Dodgen's blood. His dad was head coach at Knoxville Farragut for many years. The Lionette coach has younger sisters who are assistant coaches at Pigeon Forge and Hardin Valley Academy.
They've all grown up around basketball their entire lives and have collectively witnessed hundreds, maybe thousands, of games over the years. But the Cannon County coach knows there's something special in Woodbury.
"There's no fan base anywhere like you'll find here in Cannon County," said Dodgen as he prepared for last week's girls state tournament. It marked the fourth time in the last five years for the Lionettes to play at Murphy Center. "The support and love these people show towards basketball is very special, something you don't see anywhere else," he added.
This year was extra special for fans of the Maroon and Gold. It marked the first time in school history that both the boys and girls teams captured regional titles on the basketball court. The Lions, under the direction of native Matthew Rigsby, also brought home a golden trophy this year.
The amazing support shown to the youth of Cannon County is, indeed, unique and certainly heart-warming. We've all cheered for the young men and women who work so hard in bringing great basketball to our county. But this column is for the fans! I salute those loyal fans, young and old, who make Tuesday and Friday nights in the winter so special.
Keep doing what you do, Cannon County, where our youth are concerned. It's an investment that will continue to pay huge dividends in the futur