By Todd Lamberth:
In the midst of the worst losing streak in the state, something clicked for Goodpasture last year.
The Cougars began the 2016 season coming off of consecutive winless seasons and with a 21-game losing streak, facing a tough Battle Ground Academy team. While their losing streak moved to 22 games against BGA, it’s what veteran head coach Jerry Joslin saw after the game that made him confident things were about to change.
“The first game we got beat by BGA, who were up 21-0 at half, it ended up being 21-14 and our kids were crying after the game,” Joslin said. “then I knew we cared, major. As that developed, then we won one. Well that got the monkey off our back.”
The streak ended with a 28-13 win over White House the next week, but then they started a new streak. That win would start a five game winning streak in which the Cougars outscored their opponents 131 to 60.
That streak ended with a 15-14 loss to Stratford (who would end the season undefeated), but Goodpasture responded by winning their last three games of the regular season over East Nashville, CPA and White House-Heritage. The Cougars not only followed their consecutive winless seasons with a winning season, but also finished second with a 5-1 record in a tough region 5-3A.
They would continue their winning ways in the playoffs with wins over Harpeth and then undefeated Fairview. Their season would end with a tough 30-27 overtime loss to CPA in the third round, but Goodpasture had made one of the biggest turnarounds in the state, going from ten losses in consecutive seasons to ten wins the next.
When thinking about what led to their turnaround, it came down to one thing for Joslin: leadership.
“I think we had a group of seniors that had played for a period of time at Goodpasture and they had kind of experienced the plus side of the years prior and the negative side over the past few years,” Joslin said.
As they look to build upon last season, they’ll face a few challenges. One of those challenges being the task of replacing the leadership from the 17 seniors who graduated in the spring. Joslin returns just eight seniors on this year’s squad so he’ll look to a large junior class to help provide some leadership.
“Is the same leadership there? Is the same quality leadership there?” Joslin said. “We’ve got to have some seniors to help us, but we’ve also got to have some juniors to step up.”
Another challenge the Cougars face is the move to Division II, where they’re placed in the challenging AA-Middle region along with BGA, CPA, Franklin Road Academy and Lipscomb Academy. However, Goodpasture is familiar with all four teams as they played each of them in 2016, going 3-2.
“I feel good about where we are right now,” Joslin said. “That said, I feel good about the competition we’re playing and how good they are.”
Goodpasture faces nine total Division II opponents this season. Their journey back to ten wins will begin on the road at Donelson Christian Academy before they host Briarcrest in week two.
You can contact Todd Lamberth at email@example.com and follow him on twitter @Todd_Lamberth.