Posters with the words “We Believe” written on them were prominent in the windows of stores throughout Woodbury and banners replaced standing billboards relaying the same message as the town readied for Cannon County’s first TSSAA High School Football Playoff game since 1995 Friday night.
A standing-room only crowd at Fred Schwartz Field greeted the town’s first playoff football team in more than a decade and the gritty Lions gave their followers a gritty performance that fell just short in a gut-wrenching 29-20 setback to Harpeth.
Fans, players and coaches still believed their stay in these playoffs would be extended, even when they trailed by a slim two-point margin the final stanza. And why not? Cannon County carried a 20-16 lead into the fourth and they had stood toe-to-toe with its foe from the opening kickoff.
Moreover, the Lions had given their fans many memorable finishes during a season filled with milestone moments. The season began with prognosticators picking the Lions last in District 8-AA. It ended with Cannon County producing one of the greatest football teams in its school’s history.
“I think we surprised everybody this year,” senior standout Tyler Jacobs said. “After the DeKalb County game early in the season we knew we could be this team. We fought every game and played hard. We came a long way but we fell short in the playoffs. It’s going to be sad not seeing these guys on the field every day because it’s been a special team.”
Players shed tears and struggled to find joy in their achievements shortly after the reality of their season ending had hit in the minutes shortly after the game had ended Friday night, but first-year coach Joel Schrenk said the loss to Harpeth can’t diminish the team’s good deeds.
“When we get a little separation and the hurt (from this loss) goes away we can start talking about the good times and the fun things. It will be OK,” Schrenk said. “We are going to do everything in our power to help them understand what they have accomplished and what it means.”
As hard as it may have been to realize the significance of their season with the sting of the nip-and-tuck playoff loss still stinging in the crisp wind, players fought back tears while explaining how much their community has meant.
“Everyone in this town has supported us,” Emby Mills said. “It has been a lot of fun. People looked forward to Friday nights and the football games. They always look forward to the games but this year they were excited about our team. I think we have set a new era at Cannon County and I hope it sticks.”
Community pride always has been abundant in Woodbury and throughout Cannon County. Now its high school football team is giving the community a reason to beam and the citizens showed their appreciation in grand fashion Friday.