The Alcoa Tornadoes beat the Covington Chargers for the second year in a row on Saturday, locking up the program's fourth straight state title. Number four was the tightest of the bunch, a last-second Walker Russell touchdown put the Tornadoes up 21-14.
"It was do or die just about," said head coach Gary Rankin, "if we went into overtime with them I don't know if we could have won, you just couldn't stop those guys."
"The team needed me to step up and that's exactly what I was going to do," said 3A Mr. Football Russell.
This win was record-setting for the program as well: a 17th state title, a TSSA record. Number 17 pushes them out of a tie with rival Maryville.
"It's good to lead the state in anything I guess," said Rankin. "We hadn't talked about that a whole lot. I'm sure the community will and our kids will at some point in time, but I'm just proud of our kids. There was a lot of pressure on them from the get-go."
Alcoa's class of 2019 won a state title in each of its seasons with the Tornadoes.
"It's all we wanted to do as a school, as a football team and just to get it done, nothing's ever felt better," said Russell.
"We fought so hard this whole year to go 15-0 and we just wanted to be a special group and I think finally accomplishing that goal, it feels great."