Upon dialing Anthony Law on his cell phone, the caller is greeted with the music from the introductory theme song for NFL Monday Night Football.
That alone gets one fired up for the start of football. Law, the Whites Creek High coach, is plenty fired up already as his team opened fall practice Monday, as did the other teams around the Nashville area.
“It’s going to be a very new and exciting season for us,’’ said Law, just after the Cobras’ first practice Monday morning. “We have about 40 sophomores out. That includes our quarterback Jay Booker, some guys out for the first time ever, to go with some really good seniors.’’
Normally known for their stout defense, the Cobras were disappointing there last year.
“We weren’t ever able to stop the run,’’ said Law, who is beginning his third season at Whites Creek and seeking his second playoff berth. “We didn’t have enough depth there last season. This year, we do, we should be very sound on defense.’’
Enter Lamar Brinkley and Kris Cecil, two of 10 Cobra seniors, who are hoping to clamp down the defensive deficiencies of last year when the team allowed 220 points (22 ppg) and 38 in the final game against Maplewood.
“We’ve worked very hard, and each of our linebackers have a lot more trust in each other,’’ said Cecil, a 5-8, 200-pound linebacker. “We’re feeding off each other, and we have a very close group of seniors.’’
“As a senior, I going to give 150 percent of myself,’’ said Brinkley, a 6-4, 240-pound tight end/defensive end. “We just want to step up, make the big plays on defense. We’re all playing for the love of each other.’’
The Cobras finished 5-5 last year, missing out on the Class 4A playoffs, being the odd man out on a three-team tiebreaker (all 4-3) on the final night of the regular season. The Cobras fervently hope that doesn’t happen again.
“We not only hurt for the seniors, it hurt us, too,’’ said Brinkley, recalling the final night last year. “We cried right along with them, and we hurt just as badly.’’
“We want to make sure that won’t happen again, where we lose on tiebreakers or flipping coins,’’ Cecil said. “We want to go out and take care of business now and not wait.’’
“Like last year, I think it may come down to Tullahoma, Stratford and us for those final two playoff spots,’’ Law said.
“Tullahoma played a bunch of (non-region) garbage teams (Tullahoma was 7-3 overall), that was the difference. It was real rip-off (missing the playoffs),’’ Law said.
“We’re going to play a tough schedule, no cupcakes,’’ Law said, rattling off his team’s first two games against 5A powers Ooltewah (playoff semifinals) and Hunters Lane (playoff quarterfinals), along with 3A region champ Pearl-Cohn.
Oh, yes – there is life after Jamie Graham, the Cobras’ graduated all-state cornerback, who is at Vanderbilt.
“It’s kind of like life in the NBA without Michael Jordan, life in the NFL without John Elway,’’ Law said. “And here, life without Michael Hassell, John Bond and Jamie. New guys are just going to have to step up.’’
And step up fast.