Greenback defensive coordinator Brian Hanley won a state championship as a player at Greenback in 1987.

A star running back at the time, it was Hanley's senior year when the Cherokees made their run at history.

Unfortunately, Hanley broke his arm in the state semifinal game. He had to get a still rod put in from his elbow to his wrist - which is still in place today - which would keep him out of the championship game.

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The most vivid memory Hanley has of that game is the team running out of the tunnel at Vanderbilt Stadium.

"Somebody got tripped up, and we had like 30 guys fall on top of each other," Hanley said. "I was laughing 'cause I was thinking the whole time, the Richland Raiders probably thought we were going to be easy."

Greenback beat Richland in the state title game, 32-0, capping a perfect 15-0 season.

"It was a team that was built around a lot of great players," Hanley said of his '87 squad. "That's why when I broke my arm, we were still able to go out and win."

It just so happens Hanley's son, Bryce, is the starting quarterback of this season's Cherokees team.

"He's not 'Brian Hanley's son', now it's 'I'm Bryce's dad', right?" Hanley said. "It's not about me now, it's about him and his legacy."

Bryce Hanley can attest to how fast his dad was 30 years ago.

"I joke with him a lot that I never saw any film until about five years ago, so I thought they were just making it up," Bryce Hanley said.

The school retired Brian Hanley's No. 21 jersey in 1988. He's remembered as one of the best backs to ever play at Greenback. His son can add to that legacy Thursday.

"It'd be great," said Bryce Hanley, who's been to three state championship games in three seasons. "You grow up thinking about '87 and to just have a ring like that '87 and like my dad, that'd be something special."

There is something special about Greenback and it's football program. It's about family, it's about perspective, it's about the love of the game; something that lives on 30 years later.

"The community will say that myself and my family has been good to them," Brian Hanley said. "But I'll tell you, the community's been good to us. There's no other place I'd want to raise my boys and raise our family than in Greenback."

Greenback will play Cornersville in the Class 1A state championship game Thursday at 11 a.m. CT in Cookeville.