(WHNT) – We’re wrapping up our On the Road with Olivia and Claudia high school football previews with a pair of teams looking to climb to the top of Class 4A Region 8 in the New Hope Indians and Madison County Tigers.
It’s year two for Tyler Johnson leading the Indians. This is his first full offseason with this team and he said they’ve had a really good summer, competing hard in 7-on-7s and showing a lot of promise for this fall.
“We had a great competition summer, been to some 7 on 7s and some OTAs against some mostly bigger schools, some 6 and 7As and have competed and won some of those too,” Johnson said. “They’ve got some grit to them, they’ll fight back, I’ve seen it already and I’m excited to see that on a real football field with real pads and all of that stuff.”
The Indians bring back nine starters on offense and eight on defense, and that experience will be key. They lost their final four games last season to miss out on the postseason for the seventh year in a row. Now these returners and this group as a whole are motivated for a different ending.
“One thing I’ve really tried to push this summer is we’ve worked these guys hard but we’ve tried not to do too much football because I want them to love football when it comes to October,” Johnson said. “They are hungry to make a mark at New Hope and do things that hasn’t been done in a while. We have goals and things that we want to do but we have to take care of the first game first so they’re definitely hungry for those things.”
Also in Class 4A Region 8 are the Madison County Tigers and third-year head coach Matt Putnam. A big thing Putnam is trying to build at Madison County is success on and off the field, and that starts with representing the school the right way.
“We just encourage our kids to do what’s right, even when no one is looking,” Putman said. “When a kid graduates from Madison County, I want them to be a better person, I want them to be a better football player but I want them to be better people because of our program. I want them to be a reason for our success and our successes are within.”
On the field, the Tigers went 4-7 and once again made it to the playoffs, but lost their round one game for the third year in a row.
Putnam said his team has worked hard all summer and have bigger goals than just making the postseason.
“We’ve got a hard-working, gritty bunch of boys that are ready to get after it. They were happy making it, last year’s senior class was one of the first to make it all four years, I think there’s been a few other classes to do it but this class wants to do it too so they’re a little hungry. Making it to the playoffs is just the first step and they definitely want to go farther. We’ve talked about it a lot this summer in the weight room is they want to get out of the first round,” Putnam added.
Madison County will open at home against Buckhorn on Friday while New Hope has a bye and will open at Sardis the following week.