(WHNT) — For episode six of On the Road with Olivia and Claudia, we feature Fyffe and Pisgah.
Once again, the Red Devils enter the season as the defending state champions; 2022 featured another perfect 15-0 season and the program’s sixth state title.
You might think winning a blue map has become an expectation out in Fyffe, and that’s all these kids think about when they hit the field – but you shouldn’t tell that to head coach Paul Benefield.
“They don’t think about stuff like that. There may be people that do but I don’t think any of the players think about something two or three months from now,” Benefield said. “We’ll just take one day at a time just try to get better every day that’s all we can do.”
This will be Coach Benefield’s 27th season leading the Red Devils and as always he’ll have some holes to fill from last year’s seniors. Benefield says he doesn’t like to use the word young to describe his team; he prefers to describe them as inexperienced and he believes the guys he has on his roster in 2023 are ready to step up this year.
“We hope that we’ve been training these guys the past couple years when they’ve been going against those people, and it’s their turn to play now. They can’t hide behind me on the sideline anymore they’ve got to be on the field and hopefully, they’ll be ready to go. They’ve been practicing against those guys two or three years you’d think that’d make you better.”
The team who finished right behind Fyffe in the Class 2A Region 7 standings last year was Pisgah. The Eagles’ season came to an end against Fyffe in the 2A semifinals finishing with an 11-3 record; 2022 was an impressive year that head coach Luke Pruitt says helped set the expectations for the program.
“We’ve talked in the offseason about trying to get past that point. Last year’s behind us and this is a new season and the dynamic of the team is different this year. The guys are going to have to step up because the roles have changed,” Pruitt said.
“With success you have expectations and that’s something that we’ve mentioned to the guys about. Everybody expects it so now – what do we have to do to get beyond the point last year? I’m going to enjoy last year, but it’s behind us. Those games are ones they’ll always remember but that’s behind us and we have to continue to build on our success from last season going forward.”
Good news for Coach Pruitt: the Eagles have a lot of guys coming back from last year’s team who know what it’s like to succeed on the field.
Heading into 2023, Pruitt is quick to remind his players that after a season like they had in 2022, they aren’t the only ones who have those high expectations. The entire community cares about this team and wants to see them have success and hopefully, a bunch of returners will help them find it again this year.
“It’s more than individuals and more than me. They represent the ‘P’ on their helmet and the community that they represent every day so it’ll always be bigger than them,” Pruitt said.
Both Fyffe and Pisgah have a bye for week zero; the Red Devils will open against Geraldine during week one and Pisgah will host Lexington.