By Jim Steele
Dresden High School’s football team stands in pretty good shape nine weeks into the season.
The Lions, coming off their bye week, are 8-0, ranked No. 2 in the state’s Associated Press ratings, and have two games remaining before they embark on a playoff run.
Head coach Keith Hodge likes where his team is at this point but says there is still work to do.
The Lions took the open week off but returned to the practice field Sunday and had a good workout.
“We took the whole week off to let them rest, get their legs under them and focus on family time,” Hodge said. “(The open date) has been good for us. We worked hard our first day back and yesterday (Monday) was a good practice. Our goal is to have our best week of practice all year, but it takes focus and attitude.”
Peaking at the right time is critical, said the coach.
“We need to build momentum,” said Hodge. “We need to keep building.”
Dresden’s schedule has had some serious land mines along the way but consider that the Lions defeated archrival Martin-Westview, defending Class A state champ McKenzie and state contender Union City this year … all on the road.
“It shows that we ignore where we are at. We focus more on the game. Even in years past, it seems we’ve been a better road team,” Hodge said. “I don’t know why, but we seem to play our best on the road, but we need to play well at home.”
Much of Dresden’s success can be attributed to a group of seasoned players. The Lions are loaded with seniors and experience. Having that kind of battle scarring and depth has Bern a key this year.
“I think it goes back to playing experience and being unselfish. We have experience, kids who are three-to-four-year starters,” said the coach. “We have unselfish, hard-working kids and you’ll win football games that way. That’s been big for us this year.”
Dresden hosts Gleason Friday night and will entertain Greenfield a week from Thursday to wrap up the 2023 regular season. To win the region, Dresden has to win one of its two remaining games.
“There are things that still have to play out. We want to control our own destiny,” said the coach.
Dresden hopes to build momentum toward the post-season and it all starts this week. Hodge said this team hasn’t peaked yet, but he hoped the best is still to come.
“I feel good about where we are, but I think there is room for improvement. We are not at our peak, but we are going up. We can’t take a step back,” the coach said. “We need to improve. Health is a big deal and we’re in pretty good shape right now. We need to stay that way to give ourselves the best chance we can.”
Hodge was reluctant to look too far ahead but acknowledged that there were some potential obstacles in West Tennessee.
“It’s a tough road. West Tennessee is loaded,” he said. “You have us, MASE, Union City, McKenzie and Lake County is good. Then there’s Moore County. We need to improve to give ourselves a shot.”
In the meantime, Dresden has its work cut out.
“We want to get some excitement in the community and play some home playoff games,” said Hodge.