Poag’s seniors have played since their sophomore season and that kind of experience, especially this late in the regular season where region games mean so much for the first time in school history, is a big deal. He knows you have to go through all those growing pains and go through games like playing a Calhoun -- winning or losing against them. But he feels the program is getting closer to where he wants it to be.
The Mountaineers program has only been around since 2009 when Larry Cornelius started the program playing home-and-homes with Locust Grove and River Ridge. Since then, it’s been a steady development with programs like Southeast Whitfield and Dalton just over the county line vying for folk’s attention on Football Fridays. But Poag has seen the growth first-hand.
“It means a lot… the buzz around the school,” he admits. “They’ve been there in the past, but this year is special. People start recognizing you as a program around the state. It’s a great feeling right now, but we can’t get caught up in it. Teams will still beat us if we don’t prepare to play.”
Preston left Christian Heritage after one year to take the job at North Murray and another Poag, his brother Jay, ascended to the head coaching position after being an assistant on the staff. The Lions are having a top-10 season themselves at 6-1 in Class A Private. I had to ask if there’s any kind of conversations at Saturday breakfast about “Hey, here’s what I did. What did you do,” in that kind of brotherly coaching love we see every once in a while.
“Honestly, during football season, we stay kind of separate,” he says. “It’s just such a busy time. People don’t realize how much it takes to prepare on a weekly basis. Saturday is, really, your only day off to recharge your batteries. He’s doing well there and had to rebuild it with a lot of athletes graduating. We played them this summer and they’ve got good athletes. They’re gonna do well.”
So, right now, study hall for North Murray involves watching everyone else in Region 6. The game with LFO is a big game -- especially with a region championship and a 2018 loss still fresh in his mind.
“We’ll be ready and excited to play.”
You don’t doubt that for a second…
Play it safe, everyone… I’ll see you at the game!