Graham High School’s 2017 regular season was nearly perfect. The only loss came to Bluefield on the first game of the year. But in November, it all came to an end with a 37-0 loss to Union in the state quarterfinals.
"We thought we had a bad playoff performance in the third round," head coach Tony Palmer said. "We’re looking to rebound from that game."
It’s not as if the 2018 G-Men will start from square one. They return experienced players on both sides of the ball, in including senior Cameron Allen.
"I think with this group we’re all going to come together and just do what our coaches ask us to do," the quarterback and defensive back said. "We’re going to work hard every day, every minute on the field — just buying into what our coaches say."
"We’re pretty versatile," Palmer said. "We can do a lot of different things offensively. We’re real excited about our defense. We’ve got some guys that can run, some guys that get to the ball and some guys that tackle pretty well."
Tuesday was just the team’s second official practice of the young season, but linebacker and running back Jazaire Reed already senses something different with this squad.
"I think it’s the best group we’ve ever had in the last two years since I’ve been here," he said. "We’re smarter, we get along better. We’re brothers. We’re family."
Graham has had success over the past few years, finishing 2016 and 2017 with a record of 11-2. But this year, the team is looking to get over that hump by focusing on one thing.
"Finish, finish, finish. There are two years in a row we feel like we left something on the table that we didn’t finish," Palmer emphasized. "So we’ve got to go back and finish what we’re doing and try to take the next step in our program."
Graham will open it’s season against Bluefield on August 24th at Mitchell stadium. After last year’s loss, the G-Men are already excited for the newest installment in the rivalry.
"It was a close game. It was a good game. We had fun," Allen said, referring to last year’s match-up. "But this year, we’re going to get them, for sure."