Loudon aims high in historical season

High School

A store front just down the road from Loudon High School boasts the sign: “Redskin Proud. 19-0.”

Since the sign went up, the boys basketball team at the high school hasn’t remained unbeaten, but the games go whistling by, and the wins keep piling up.
 

“They play together, they’re unselfish,” says first-year head coach Josh Graves. “They put the team before themselves man, it’s special.”

This years Redskins started 19-0, both the best start and the longest win streak in school history, before suffering a loss at McMinn Central.
 
So what’s the secret to starting 19-0?
 
“Playing as a team,” says senior small forward Mason Small. “Hard work.”
 

“We’re a together group. We play well together. Everyone has fun,” adds senior shooting guard Jamison Harig.

“It’s been a blessing for me, for sure,” says Graves.

It’s been twelve years since Loudon won a district title. Graves was a student at the high school then, just not in a uniform.

“That’s kinda my story to the guys. Don’t quit on what you want. I never made the team here, but I’m Loudon Proud so to speak.”

A decade after graduating in 2008, Graves came home. And his first year as head coach has reignited the Redskins fanbase.

“To see everyone rally around us; everytime we go out to eat, everyone coming up to us and talking about the team. It’s been really neat to have that,” says Harig.

It hasn’t just been neat. It’s been record setting. According to the school, January’s loss to Sweetwater was their most attended game since 1984.

“It means everything to me,” Small grins. “Just thinking about how everyone’s here to watch us and support us, it gives us extra energy to play for them.”

So if their crowds keep them in the right frame of mind, Coach Graves’ style, including sport coats and shoes, keep them on their toes.
 

When asked about his coach’s unique sense of style, which includes various bright blazers and over 40 pairs of shoes, Harig groans. “It’s something. It’s different. It’s always a surprise to see what he’s gonna wear out there.”

“When I got my first high school job at Sequoyah, I called my wife,” Graves explains. “She’s the mastermind behind the getup. I didn’t get a congratulations, instead it was, ‘well I get to dress you up now.’ Everyone may think I look goofy, but what the wife says, you gotta do.”

Whatever he’s wearing, the Redskins have kept winning.

“We have goals of a district championship, and a region championship and a sub-state berth and hopefully a state berth,” Graves outlines them all. “I’ve always been one that you set your goals high.”

Their goals are large. Just call them Loudon Proud.

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