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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Johnson: Hardy's patience paying off

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I've often told second-year Shelbyville Central coach Jason Hardy that getting the Golden Eagle football program back to the glory days of the past is going to be a marathon, not a sprint.

It's fair to say that Hardy and the Eagles have at least completed the first leg of the race.

After going 0-10 last year, the Eagles finished the 2007 regular season at 3-7, the wins coming over Region 5-4A opponents.

A fourth place finish in the region earned Shelbyville their first TSSAA state playoff berth in four years.

Shelbyville travels to No. 1 seed Clarksville High on Friday night at 7 in opening round action.

Before you become judgmental and suggest the Eagles don't deserve to be in the state playoffs with a 3-7 overall record, consider the fact that they defeated every team below them in the seven-team region. Also take into consideration that three of their non-region losses were to Class 5A schools, including a double-overtime loss to Coffee County, who finished second in their region.

Year in and year out this region has been considered one of the toughest in Class 4A with the four metro Nashville schools as members.

Top seed Hillsboro has become one of the most dominant teams in the state, Maplewood is extremely talented and while Stratford and Whites Creek were down a little this year, they still possess a lot of talented athletes.

Some 17 teams across the state earned a playoff berth with an overall losing record this year, the most notable being state powerhouse Gallatin with a 4-6 mark.

When the majority of college football fans are begging for a playoff system, we should hesitate to criticize the high school playoff system or a team that earns a right to advance.

Hardy will be the first to admit that the program is far from being what he knows it can be -- but he'll also tell you the team and his staff are working extremely hard to get it there.

To see the improvement the Golden Eagles have made over the past year is amazing.

Even though the defense still gives up a few too many big plays, they have improved, especially getting to the football and tackling.

Offensively, they are becoming more balanced and are able to move the ball up and down the field. The problem is scoring once they're in the red zone.

The number of underclassmen on both sides of the ball can be credited for Shelbyville's inconsistency.

Sure, it's a long shot for the Golden Eagles to make a run throughout the playoffs, but you can throw all the impressive regular season records out the window because every team that advanced is 0-0.

Shelbyville fans need to remember four years ago when the Eagles last made the playoff as a No. 4 seed.

They traveled to Nashville to face powerhouse Pearl Cohn and returned home with a huge upset victory.

Let's give credit where credit is due.

The Eagles earned the right to play in the opening round of the state playoffs no matter what their overall record is.

Seats available on charter bus: Eagle fans can ride a charter bus to Clarksville for $20 a seat. The bus will leave from the Wal-Mart parking lot at 3 p.m. Friday.

Contact Jeff Hicks at 224-3630 or Suzanne Hicks at 684-8646 ext. 220 to sign up or for more details.

Gary Johnson is a Times-Gazette sports writer.

Gary Johnson
Point by Point

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