By Todd Lamberth:
Robertson County’s two biggest schools face off this week with more on the line than ever before.
Greenbrier (7-1, 4-0) travels to Springfield (5-3, 3-1) in a game with playoff implications as both teams still have a shot at the region 5-4A title.
“I think the playoff seeding will help keep us focused,” Springfield head coach Dustin Wilson said. “Not many times has this game been played with region meaning. It is usually early in the year and for bragging rights. Now it is all on the line.”
Both coaches are alumni of their respective schools and know the rivalry runs deep. Bobcat head coach John Elmore also knows the potential playoff implications only adds to the excitement his team has heading into the game.
“Our games with Springfield are always intense and fun to be a part of,” Elmore said. “The players have competed against each other since they were in Jr. pro and middle school. Having so much on the line in this game only adds to the atmosphere on Friday night and adds excitement to the week’s preparation.”
The matchup has garnered attention from outside of Robertson County as MyTV 30 has announced they will be broadcasting the game as part of their “Friday Night Rivals” series.
For schools in Robertson County, being in the spotlight like this is a rare occurrence. Both coaches are tasked with keeping their players focused on the game and not on the new experience of playing on TV.
“Being on TV only adds to the excitement of the game,” Coach Elmore said. “We have talked about the subtle differences between a TV game and a non-televised game. We keep the players informed on what the situation is each and every week. They know the importance of this game. We try to focus on the things we can control and not worry about things beyond our control.”
Wilson knew of the possibility of hosting the MyTV 30 crew going into last week’s game, but didn’t want to add pressure to his team with a region game against Portland still to play. After the game, Wilson told his team and his team’s excitement immediately grew.
“No pressure, just pure excitement,” Wilson said. “I told them at the middle of the field after our Portland game, that they just completed the “setup” for the next weeks game by beating Portland and now everybody wants to see it enough that the TV station is coming out to broadcast. They all cheered and smiled real big. It’s just one of those rewarding coaching moments. They are excited and will play with plenty of emotions on Friday.”
With a win on Friday night, Greenbrier could face undefeated White House next week with the region championship on the line. Elmore and his staff have made sure their players are focused on the importance of the game this week first.
“Our sole focus this week is Springfield,” Elmore said. “In order to host a playoff game, we have to win. We have discussed with our players what the situation is and they know what is at stake. They have done an excellent job of focusing on what is important right now which is preparing for Springfield.”
For the Yellow Jackets, playing 5A schools Beech, Gallatin and Clarksville, along with 6A Station Camp earlier in the season prepared them for the pressures of the final month of the season.
“After the Beech game (in week six), the message was simple: ‘OCTOBER’. Four region games, 1 week at a time and go qualify for the playoffs. This week is another region game. This week is still ‘OCTOBER’ but the other team just happens to be wearing green and they live a little bit closer to us.”
The battle of Robertson County starts at 7 p.m. on MyTV 30 with Jonathan Hutton and Josh Corey on the call.