“They heard all the talk,” says McFarlin. “You don't have Steele Chambers. You don't have J.D. Bertrand. You don't have Ryan Davis, who finished with almost 4,000 receiving yards, or quarterback Jake Smith. Add to that, the sophomore quarterback we thought was going to be the guy, breaks his collarbone the day before our scrimmage. Banks Atkins needed surgery and was out for the entire year. Our quarterback, Duncan Reavis, played in the defensive secondary and was a slot receiver -- plus he had a concussion the year before, so we didn't even know if he was going to play.”
With all the changes and preseason adversity, it seemed just a matter of time before something happened that had not happened in a long time. A 13-10 loss to Woodward Academy in the third game of the season could have sent the Titans reeling, but the veteran coach saw a silver lining.
“It was a great learning week for us,” recalls McFarlin. ”We were already down because we lost Banks Atkins, we lost Elijah Green, our leading running back, the week before, then we took the loss. Looking back on that, what was hanging over our heads was the 23-game winning streak, two-time defending state champion, along with all the expectations. It was like being strapped to a weight. The loss to Woodward stripped all of that off of us.”
Last week Bryant had two interceptions and a touchdown reception, while Green and Haynes both topped 100 yards rushing as the Titans avenged that early season setback against Woodward Academy 46-21. The team -- with all of the questions and doubts -- had cleared the final hurdle and made it's back to the state championship game.