KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Gibbs Eagle football squad is opening the 2021 season with a chip on their shoulders.
“Obviously being from Gibbs, I’ve graduated from Gibbs, we’ve always had not as much love as we’d like,” said Eagles head football coach Brad Turner.
“But again, that’s part of life, and that’s part of as you approach things to create that motivation. We’ve had a successful program and then done well for quite a while. Just going into the season and having that chip and when you prepare and practice. We tell the guys all the time at the end of the day, your record doesn’t matter if you’re playing on the last day of the season.”
Gibbs ended last year with a 4-6 record but the players say they are projected to have an even worse record; ultimately adding more fuel to their fire.
“We’re expecting big things but a lot of people are doubting us, they’re saying we’re going to go 2-8 and stuff,” said senior outside linebacker Tarice McKinney. “But that’s not going to happen.”
“We’re playing with a chip on our shoulder pretty much,” echoed his teammate senior wide receiver Sylas Williams. “We were projected to go 2-10 and we’re ready to show that’s not it. We want to show people what Gibbs can do.”
The Eagles return six apiece on both sides of the ball including their projected QB1 Bryson Palmer who saw action under center last season as a backup. Palmer filled in for Colton Qualls when Qualls was in quarantine and broke passing records in his debut.
“It really helped us understand, ‘ok, looking in the future a little bit.’ We’re excited about Bryson Palmer at quarterback. It was good for him to get that experience last year,” said Turner.
The Eagles had to rely on the next man up last season playing in the COVID-19 year. Turner is hoping that game experience produces seasoned success on the gridiron this season.
“We do have a lot of kids that had a lot of experience last year because we had kids in covid protocols so we had a lot of sophomores play last year,” said Turner. “It will be good for us this year, so we’re excited. Most of the guys that are playing have quite a bit of playing experience so that’s a good thing.”
Turner said the Eagles will be multiple on offense and defense. Offensively, they are a triple-option-based team and will try to run the rock as much as they can. Defensively, Turner and his coaching staff take an aggressive “high risk, high reward approach.”
“We’re a 3-5 based defense but we’ll line up in a four-man front, a five-man front. A high risk, high reward type defense., just get after it, create turnovers. Hopefully, the kids play fast, don’t think, and have fun doing that,” said Turner.
The Eagles open their season playing host to Halls on Friday, August 20 at 7:00 p.m.