CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Teams like Maplewood and Blackman were just a few of the preseason scrimmages Rossview coach Ron Lambert scheduled for his football team.
Hillsboro and McGavock were two teams the Hawks faced in the first three weeks of the regular season in August.
The decision to put his team through the fire so early was done on purpose. Lambert knew his team needed to see stiff competition early to help prepare them for the postseason. Rossview will get to see just how beneficial that early-season trial by fire was as the Hawks face Memphis Central at 7 p.m. at Hawks Stadium to kick off the Class 6A playoffs Friday night.
“I’m glad we made that schedule early on,” Lambert said. “There is nobody in our district that looks like those teams we faced in the preseason and to start the season. And there’s no one in our district that looks like Memphis Central. We have the speed to play with them but Memphis Central is big. They’re very big. We lack that kind of size. But we’ve seen size like that early in our non-district games so we’re not unfamiliar with it.”
Lambert said he and his staff have been watching film on the Warriors since last weekend when the high school playoff brackets were released by the TSSAA.
“They are comparable to Hillsboro but Memphis is a lot bigger than anyone we’ve played,” Rossview said. “So that’s going to be a challenge for us.”
Yet Lambert knows his team has one goal in mind.
“We’ve never won a playoff game,” Lambert said. “So this game is a critical moment for our program. And I’m sure Memphis Central will be as hungry for this game as we are. They have the chance, if they win, to play Whitehaven in the second round and that’s their rival in west Tennessee.”
The Hawks come into the game having already gone through a rash of injuries during the season. Quarterback Charles Talleyrand was lost for the year after a knee injury two games into the season. Backup quarterback Tequan Evans went out against Henry County a few weeks later, leaving Muncie Prater as the team’s lone quarterback.
Evans is expected to play Friday and should contribute on defense and special teams for the Hawks but Prater will continue to get the start under center.
“We’re sticking with Muncie,” Lambert said. “He’s played well for us. He’s done some great thing in the passing game for us and he’s moved our offense down the field.”
Lambert will also use running back Triston Luke in some direct-snap situations, giving Luke the zone option read of either keeping the ball or handing it off to one of the more productive running backs in the state the past two year, Isaiah Johnson.
“Last year we peaked too early I think,” Lambert said about his team’s 9-2 finish after losing to Independence in last year’s 6A playoff first round game. “We peaked about Week 7 or Week 8. We had already played our best football at that point. This year is different because I think we’re playing our best football right now. So that gives our kids some confidence going into this game.”
Lambert said his team has had a good week of practice as it prepares to face the Warriors.
“It’s been all business,” Lambert said. “We’ve had a buisness-like approach to practices and have even played out in the weather and elements. We want to be prepared for anything. Of course it’s always nice to play at home but I’m an old-school kind of coach. No matter where you play, you better be playing your best in the playoffs.”
George Robinson. Prep writer. 245-0747. firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Facebook and Twitter: @Cville_Sports.
CLASS 6A PLAYOFFS
Memphis Central vs. Rossview
When: Friday, Time: 7 p.m.
Where: Hawks Stadium
Records: Hawks (7-3), Warriors (7-3).