KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – Last season was Dobyns-Bennett’s first playing the newly-expanded 6A Region 1 slate. In 2021, the Tribe finished region play 3-2 and boasted a 7-4 overall record.

But, head coach Joey Christian says the result wasn’t what the program expects.

So, the returning players have been working hard – from the conclusion of the 2021 season, all the way up through these long July days.

There were some flashes of brilliance in the passing game last year, according to Christian, but there is plenty that needs to be remedied heading into this fall.

“You know, 6A football is a line-of-scrimmage game,” Christian said. “We’ve got to be able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides.”

Christian says that improvement will come from the team’s commitment to one word.

“We have a standard at Dobyns-Bennett that we play to – and the standard we have is our standard,” he said. “We’re not going to lower our standard to the kids, we’ve gotta bring the kids to our standard. So, everything we do is through that Dobyns Bennett standard.”

For the players, there’s an excitement to hit the field for a regular season game in just a month’s time.

“I think everyone else out here is as excited as me to go win some ball games,” senior wide receiver and cornerback Jonavan Gillespie said.

But, they’re taking things one task at a time. They started strong a season ago – winning each of the first five games. To come blazing out of the gates again in 2022, it will come down to the details.

“Working hard in practice every day – getting conditioning right,” Gillespie said. “Catching balls, defending balls – all of that.”

“We’re trying to learn how to finish and play all four quarters, so that when we play Science Hill, Greeneville, Maryville – we’re able to get in those situations and win,” senior quarterback Jake Carson added.

“Those reps that we get now in July are just invaluable,” Christian said. “Close games are going to be won in July.”

The Tribe’s first shot at a win will be the season opener on August 19, as they host Tennessee High at 7 p.m.