In one sense, the game’s first 48 minutes didn’t matter.
Greenback School and Oliver Springs High School went into overtime Friday, and the chess match began.
Greenback won the toss, and head coach Ethan Edmiston elected to play defense.
Oliver Springs fumbled the ball on the first play of overtime, and Greenback recovered. The Cherokees wrapped things up on the next snap when sophomore running back Cason Workman rushed for a 10-yard touchdown, sealing the Cherokees’ 20-14 region win.
“I felt good about our defense getting a stop there,” Edmiston said. “We wanted to go defense first, not only to know what you had to do on offense, but also our defensive line was taking advantage of their offensive line there at the end. Getting that fumble there was huge. Completely switched momentum.”
Workman’s mindset was far less complicated than that of his coach.
“We had to score,” he said.
Edmiston immediately knew how he would handle overtime. Letting Oliver Springs take the ball first was a no-brainer, but he faced an interesting choice when the Bobcats fumbled.
Instead of kicking a 20-yard field goal on their first play — arguably an easier, but risky route — he fed Workman.
“Definitely not,” Edmiston said on the thought of kicking. “We were going to run it, and probably run it every time until we scored there, for sure.”
Workman’s run brought the Cherokees (2-2, 2-0 Region 2-1A) back to the .500 mark for the season and on a two-game winning streak.
Greenback was forced to go to overtime because early-game mistakes cost several scoring opportunities. The Cherokees committed 115 yards of penalties in the first three quarters.
“You’ve got to clean up the penalties,” Edmiston said. “The thing we preached at halftime was, ‘You’ve got to clean up the penalties and don’t turn the ball over, and we’re going to win.’ Well, we still had penalties and we turned the ball over twice. We were lucky to win this one.”
Greenback also had a last-minute quarterback change. Regular starter Micah Franklin was sick several days before the game, and sophomore Caden Lawson was forced into action.
“(Lawson) probably hadn’t gotten a practice rep at quarterback in like a month,” Workman said.
Lawson completed eight of his 15 passes and threw an interception. But when it mattered, he led the Cherokees on a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, giving them insurance that proved key to Greenback surviving.
“Franklin got sick right before the game and we had to turn to our backup quarterback Caden Lawson,” Edmiston said. “He stepped up without running these plays in practice. Some of them were new plays. He really stepped up. That first touchdown drive he did a great job. Really proud of him and how he stepped up with very little practice.”