ALCOA, Tenn. (WVLT) -- "It's double game week!" Alcoa head coach Gary Rankin barked to his players before Monday's practice.
"Double game week!"
Yes, double game week. Double. As in two.
Alcoa opens up the season Thursday against Smith County, and then plays at Morristown East on Saturday.
Adding to the tough task of playing so much football in a short period is that Maryville is next on the schedule the following Friday.
Add it up. And it's three games in nine days.
"Never had it. Hope I never have it again. Probably shouldn't have had it this time," Rankin said when asked about the schedule.
But as Rankin put it. Alcoa was "backed into a corner."
It was either play Thursday-Saturday-Friday, or only have a nine-game regular season. The latter wasn't much of an option.
"We felt like we would be cheated if we played only nine games. We wanted ten games," offensive lineman Andrew Pierce said.
"Most of my decisions are based on what's best for the kids. They wanted this. They wanted to play ten games. I understand that," Rankin said.
"It's not basketball or baseball where you play 30. You only get ten. It's important to have ten. I did what I felt was best for the kids"
Players said they have heard criticisms about playing so much at the start of the year, but they don't seem to mind. The more football, the better.
"I think we'll be alright because we're in great shape," linebacker Jake Warwick said.
"Coaches stay on us a lot and work us real hard in practice. I think we'll be mentally prepared and I think we'll do a great job."
Rankin said he won't push the team has hard this week. He said he and his staff have talked extensively about how to handle the situation, that a 'plan' is in place. Whether that plan works or not, he doesn't know, adding that he's never coached for a situation like this.
"We're doing something that probably isn't real smart on my part, but we're gonna make it work."