Philip Shadowens had a high level of confidence in his Blackman High School football team this season.
It didn’t matter that virtually the entire county had pegged Oakland as Rutherford County’s top team in the preseason. And he never flinched when the Blaze entered the postseason with back-to-back losses.
“I saw a lot of things with this team,” said Shadowens of his confidence. “I saw a team that loved to be around each other and have fun in practice. They had a good time at practice, but they practiced hard.
“I just knew good things were going to happen to them.”
Good things did happen.
Blackman, which was ranked fifth in the state in Class 6A, upset second-ranked Oakland 17-3 in the state quarterfinals to reach the state semifinals for the first time in school history.
For his team’s achievements, Shadowens is today named The Daily News Journal’s 2013 Football Coach of the Year.
Shadowens, who recently completed his fifth season with the Blaze, has led Blackman to at least the second round of the Class 6A playoffs each season. He is 48-15 in his tenure at Blackman and 168-75 overall as a head coach.
However, this year’s team finished 11-3. The Blaze fell 28-16 at eventual state champion Maryville in the semifinals.
The loss was the closest deficit a Maryville opponent had this season.
But to get to Maryville, the Blaze had to snap a two-game losing streak entering the playoffs. Blackman entered the postseason with losses to Oakland (9-3) and Bowling Green Ky. (26-25).
“I think if you truly care about each other, you continue to fight the battle,” Shadowens said. “Even though things didn’t go the way we wanted late in the (regular season), you continue to fight. The result of that was success in the playoffs.