It is a simple question. With a far from simple answer.
The quick answer is, yes, of course, they do.
This staff has proven time and again that they are more than capable of building a winner.
However, this is, certainly, one of their biggest tests to date.
We already discussed Tuesday what they need to do to replace a talented senior class.
Now we concentrate on their opponents, assuming they are able to replace that talent.
Even if head coach Houston Thiel and his staff are able to find and/or develop the talent they have, what they will be facing, is just as much.
Dickson County will come into week one hosting Creek Wood and feeling like they have the best chance to win the game they have had in several years.
A division one commitment at QB, athletes like Cade Pilkington and Wyatt Gramling, and of course, a coach all too familiar with the Creek Wood system.
I don’t disagree, they definitely have reason to be confident.
The nice flip side of that coin is Jeff Tomlinson, left Montgomery Central to come to Dickson County.
Meaning, that while the Cougars’ chances of a win increased, the Indians decreased.
What I propose, therefore, is that we say that is good for 1-1 in the record.
So, we assume those two games are split. One win, and one loss.
You figure, like last year the final three are wins as well.
Hillwood, Glencliff, and Lawrence County are all wins.
So, albeit out of order, the Red Hawks are 4-1 at the moment in my book.
Fairview in week two feels like a toss-up as well.
Creek Wood should have won the game last year, but let it slip through their gloves, and it seemed to play out as the catalyst for a downward spiral.
That cannot be the case this season if they want to get back to winning.
Let’s assume they find a way, at home this year, to win it.
That means at the moment, the Red Hawks sit at 2-1 in three of their four, what I would call, toss-up games.
The final of those games might be the most difficult of all.
Last year this game got out of hand quick for Creek Wood.
Some people would argue it was because the team was demoralized, coming into it with five straight losses.
Others, the fact that it was the week after Jacob Stephens went down and Ethan Donaldson only had one week to practice.
All true statements.
However, what they don’t mention, is Nathan Robinson and Derek Taylor.
Robinson led the nation last year, yes the nation, in sacks.
Because of that, Greenbrier as a team led the state in the same category.
Meanwhile, due to the amount of QB pressure, Taylor found himself with the ball in his hands defensively a lot from the DB position.
Not to mention he torched the Red Hawks last season in the run and pass game.
He was a one-man wrecking crew.
Both young men are committed to the University of Tennessee after their senior year.
The only saving grace for Creek Wood is this year they have them at home.
Without, the talent that has departed, and considering what the Bobcats have returning, this game, for now, looks like a loss.
Therefore, the Red Hawks at the moment look to go 2-2 in toss-up games and win the last three games going away.
That means they sit, again out of order mind you, at 5-2.
They also could very well finish 3-1 in toss-up games, I really do not see them defeating Greenbrier, and therefore be 6-1.
If the Red Hawks can find a way to do that, I would call the season a rousing success.
That is because, their other three games, come against seemingly far superior competition.
Marshall County last year was a blowout.
It looked as if everything the Red Hawks wanted to do the Tigers did it faster and better.
What does County return this year? Unsure.
Do they have to travel to Creek Wood this year? Yes.
However, after last season and what the Red Hawks will be missing, I just cannot consider it a toss-up.
After that home game, it is travel for three straight weeks.
First up, a trip to metro Nashville and a date with the Firebirds.
Yes, Pearl-Cohn star wideout, Barion Brown has departed for Kentucky.
Unfortunately, they always seem to reload and have at least one or two strong, power five-level, players.
A road test that Creek Wood I doubt will pass.
Then comes the cream of the crop. The top of the food chain. The end all be all.
Now look, the Wildcats may not be the most talented team.
They do not, to my knowledge, have one or multiple guys who are going to make a major impact on Saturdays.
That being said, they may be the most well-coached, disciplined, and all-around focused high school team I have seen.
And that is why they are your reigning, defending, state champions.
The Red Hawks have to go into their house, more than likely on at least a two-game losing streak and play near-perfect football.
Possible, yes. Likely, no.
In the end, I believe Creek Wood finishes the year at 5-5.
One game better than they were a year ago, with a real shot at 6-4.
If they do finish 6-4, or better because yes technically anything can happen with good coaching and culture, which they have then I would say throw a party because it has been one heck of a year for the Red Hawks.
Will they get back to their winning ways, yes.
Just maybe not as quick as some would like.