The Greenback Cherokees quickly made sure Senior Night ended the right way for the 11 seniors on the team.
Now they have bigger fish to fry.
For the most part, Class 1A's No. 4-ranked Cherokees didn't show much signs of rust coming off their bye week, dismissing their District 3-A visitors from Harriman 42-0 Friday night at Cooper Field. Greenback was left to await the TSSAA playoff seeding that was released 11 a.m. Saturday, although the Cherokees are all but assured of a first-round bye.
"It's all about how the kids approach each day," said coach Justin Ridge about the mentality of the Cherokees (9-1, 4-1 District 3-A) with byes both before and presumably after Friday's contest. "If they come out every day and they think, 'well, we don't have a game for two weeks,' then we may come out rusty. But if we get our kids focused enough to know we're preparing to make ourselves better, and we're going to have an idea of what one of the teams we're playing is going to do."
Harriman looked early on like it would make the game interesting - at least for a moment. The Blue Devils (1-9, 0-5) answered the Cherokees' opening score with a wing-T-powered drive down to the Greenback 26. Harriman had already converted one fourth-down earlier in that drive - a pass from Bradley Taylor to Lucas Lunsford on fourth and six - but the Cherokees stuffed the Devils' second attempt at a conversion, stopping Lunsford at the line of scrimmage.
The Cherokees' quest to run the score to mercy rule went on a detour when quarterback Eric Anderson, on a long run, had the ball stripped by Harriman's Chris Works, and the Devils' Josh Phillips recovered. Harriman came out on offense in a polecat formation - in which the team is split up all over the field in three bunches with just the center and back in the middle - in an attempt to open the playbook, but Lunsford threw three straight incompletions down the field and the Devils had to punt.
"We'd seen them in that before, and we're glad they didn't go into it, because it always makes you a little bit uneasy," said Ridge about the formation, which is also called the muddle huddle, among many other names. "But we played it well."
It was all Greenback from there, try as Harriman - which dealt with injuries all season and started four freshmen - might have. Hunter Cope caught a pass in the flat, broke a tackle and coasted to the end zone early in the second quarter to put the Cherokees up 14-0.
"These kids know they've played hard all year, they've had to play two of the best teams in the state the last two weeks, and they've come out and they played hard," said Blue Devils coach Travis Tapp, whose team had lost to 3-A champion Grace Christian 49-20 last week. "I think the world of them, and I appreciate the way they played for Harriman High School."
Anderson showed his defensive acumen on Harriman's next drive, picking off Taylor's to the flat from his corner spot and taking it 21 yards to the house for Greenback's third score.
"We were in Cover 2, and I saw the receiver come out, and I didn't think the quarterback was going to throw, but he gave me a good present," Anderson said of his pick-six.
On the Cherokees' next possession, Anderson rolled to his right on third and 14 and fired it to Brock Moore running behind the Devils' secondary for a 53-yard strike and a 28-0 lead.
Another Greenback possession later, Richard Seymour caught a pass from Anderson and made a juke move by two would-be defenders on his way to a demoralizing 38-yard score, which put Greenback up 35-0 and enacted the TSSAA mercy rule for the remainder of the game.