BY CORY WOODROOF | PHOTOS BY KINDELL BUCHANAN
The Page Patriots got their season started off in the best way possible.
Construction crews put the finishing touches on their brand-new turf field right before the team got a big Battle of 840 win over the Fairview Yellow Jackets; trophy included.
And, how about Nolensville’s start?
The Knights rode senior tailback Colton Dooley’s 180-yard, five-touchdown performance to a road win over Fayetteville, positioning themselves with Maplewood as the only team so far with a win in their district.
Friday night at the Knights’ place someone’s good luck is going to have to run out, while another’s is about to double.
Our Home Page Game of the Week finds Page taking on host Nolensville in a clash to see who can go 2-0 early in the season and keep the good times rolling.
Will it be Page, last year’s victor in this matchup, or Nolensville, who has more experience now and a new coach?
Page looking to get back down to Earth after otherworldly start
If you’re looking to buy a lottery ticket somewhere in Williamson County, you might consider the gas station over by Page High.
The team’s lucky streak in getting their field prepared on time and in winning a storied rivalry game against Fairview has the Patriots riding high as the season goes on. But, of course, head coach Charles Rathbone wants his young team to take the moment in stride.
After all, it’s only a week one accomplishment.
“If we had a mature team, just loaded with guys who have been playing a lot over the years, I wouldn’t worry so much about that,” Rathbone said. “That’s what we came out and stressed this week in practice.
“The Battle of 840…it’s nice, it’s great, congratulations, you got a trophy, but ultimately, if you come out and lay an egg this week, then we’re right back at square one. We don’t want to take one step forward and two steps back. That’s been our message. Nolensville’s a very talented team, as everyone knows. If we over look them, and don’t come out to our fullest, then we’re going to be in trouble.”
Nolensville’s dual-threat quarterback Brandon Wharton II will present a challenge to all teams on Nolensville’s schedule this year, but Rathbone feels that he’s got a good way to prepare for what Wharton can do already on his roster.
“[Page] and Nolensville have very similar quarterbacks,” Rathbone said. “Cade Walker can do some things very well, too; throw the ball and run the ball very, very well. So, I think when they’re preparing for us this week, and we’re preparing for them this week, it helps both of us that we both have that dual-threat quarterback that can really make things happen both in the air and on the ground.”
The Patriots coach also has an eye on Dooley and his potential to go off for a big night.
“I think Dooley is going to present problems for anyone he plays,” Rathbone said. “He’s a very tough, hard-nosed kid. I remember watching him when he played in middle school when he came over and played.
“Our linebackers are going to have to tackle; they’re going to have to make plays in space, and I have all the confidence in [Jackson] Satterfield and [Luke] Bowers and all of our linebackers that they’re going to deliver a hit, take a hit and get up and do it again, kind of like that movie that came out.”
He’s speaking of the 2014 Tom Cruise sci-fi actioner Edge of Tomorrow, known in some cases as Live Die Repeat. In the film, Cruise plays a military officer who must go through a Groundhog’s Day cycle of repetition to help solve why he’s stuck in the time loop he’s in.
For Page, it’s an apt reference.
To keep the momentum swing in its direction, the team is going to have to push through and not be afraid to go through the same routine the grind of football demands.
If they do that and take down Nolensville, Page might be primed to repeat a much more enjoyable cycle: that of success.
Nolesnville keying in on adversity to continue strong start
Nolensville got down early on the road last weekend in their Fayetteville bout, but first-time Knights head coach Paul Derrick saw his team fulfill their summer mission.
“Something we’ve talked about all summer long, at least up to the season, was facing adversity; overcoming adversity, when bad things happen…now, what am I going to do about it?,” Derrick said.
“The way we responded was very encouraging.”
Dooley’s big night was no surprise to Derrick, who speaks highly of his senior runner.
“I knew Colton was primed for a big year,” Dooley said. “He did a phenomenal job for us last year running the football. He’s kind of slimmed down a little bit this year, it looks like, and he looks to be a little bit quicker. I think he’s running with better vision. We knew what he was capable of.”
Though, Dooley will have a target on his back when it comes to how Page will game plan for him. The defensive line and linebackers will no doubt be watching plenty of tape and will be strategizing how to avoid becoming the tailback’s next big stat night.
To counter that, Nolensville’s going to have to rely on Wharton to help the offense be creative and versatile in its attack.
Derrick hopes his senior starter will show consistency and build on his performance last week and feels they’ll be fine if he can stay the course.
“I think [he needs to] just continue to operate the offense the way he did Friday night,” Derrick said. “He did a great job of making good decisions in the run game, in the run-read game, and also, throwing the football, [he] was very, very accurate.”
Like Rathbone said, both teams have similar signal callers. So, how will Derrick prepare for what Cade Walker can do to his defense if left unchecked?
“I think you’ve got to account for [Walker] and know, when he drops back there, he’s capable of pulling that ball down and taking it [on a run],” Derrick said. “Last week, we struggled with the scramble drill…we’ve just got to be disciplined with our eyes in the secondary and read our keys and trust our technique and play our coverage and do what we do.
“Our defense is very similar to what Page runs on defense. We’re a zone defense, and we’re going to try to make you earn everything, not give up big plays and keep everything in front of us and rally to the football.”
Derrick said he’s confident he’ll see progressions as his team takes on Page.
A 2-0 start for Nolensville would be its first in team history, just after getting the school’s first 1-0 start last week.
It might signal the young school is ready to join the conversation for budding contenders in the region.
Whether it’s the Patriots drawing out their good fortunes or the Knights continuing to build an early legacy for their young school, both teams will learn something about themselves as Friday night’s action gets underway.
We’ll also have one team riding high early with an undefeated record.
That’s why Page and Nolensville is the Home Page’s Game of the Week.