There will be no surprises on Friday when Smiths Station plays its second-round game in the AHSAA Class 6A playoffs.
On the road against a team they defeated in their very first game of the season, the Panthers are hoping they can make sure Enterprise isn’t also the last. The good news, coach Mark Rose said, is that his team doesn’t need any convincing of how dangerous its opponent can be.
“The big thing is (Enterprise) had a chance to win the game last time,” he said. “If we had beat them bad, that’d be one thing. But our guys know it was an absolute war. There are no surprises this week.”
If you don’t remember how that season opener went, here’s a quick refresher:
Smiths Station jumped out to an early 21-0 lead in the second quarter before Enterprise stormed back and eventually cut the Panthers lead to six. A chance to win on Enterprise’s final position failed, and the Panthers hung on for a 34-28 victory.
“It came down to one play last time,” Rose said. “It’s going to be a tossup.”
There are a handful of reasons why Enterprise was able to have some success against Smiths Station, more offensive success, in fact, than any other team this season (Carver-Montgomery scored 41, but got 14 points from the defense).
Rose said the team mixes the run and the pass effectively, throwing a lot of screens and controlling the ball.
“They throw short passes, dink and dunk you to death,” Rose said. “Anytime you can get off the field in three plays or off the field period without them scoring, that’s a great job.”
There wasn’t anything in particular his guys did wrong last time. Enterprise was just able to find success because of its own gameplan.
“They scored more than anybody has against us and that’s just because they’re a dang good offense,” he said. “It just says to the whole team that we’ve got to score with them, and they know they’ve got their hands full.”
The good news is Smiths Station is more than ready for the challenge.
Overshadowed, perhaps, by the team’s impressive defense, the offense has had plenty of success throughout the season, as well. DeVante Marshall and J.J. Dancy have led in the running game, while Jerrell Gilmore has taken advantage of some good passing opportunities.
Gilmore said that he and the rest of his offense feels comfortable against Enterprise because of the familiarity.
“We all know what they’re going to run,” he said. “We know what to look for.”
That, of course, is a two-way street.
“They know what we’re like, too,” Gilmore acknowledged. “It just reminds us that we have to stay ready.”
And according to Rose, that hasn’t been a problem.
After picking up their first 6A playoff win in program history last Friday, the Panthers were in the weight room on Veterans Day.
“They’re not satisfied by any means,” Rose said. “We’re in the final 16, and all they talk about is how we can get to the final eight.”
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