Anderson County's seniors have a lot of experience on the football field. Four of them started as freshmen and many others have seen significant playing time over the last three years.
After going 3-7 in each of their first two seasons with the Mavericks, the class of 2019 helped lead Anderson County to a 12-0 start last season, before losing in the 4A quarterfinals to eventual state champion Greeneville.
"We had eight or nine kids playing at an All-State level last year," said head coach Davey Gillum. "We lost a couple of them but there's six or seven kids in this senior class that should be All-State caliber football players."
One of those guys is quarterback Stanton Martin, who accounted for more than 50 touchdowns in 2017. He's currently recovering from a broken fibula, one of four significant injuries in his career - a broken jaw, torn labrum in his left shoulder, and a torn ACL suffered in the final game of the 2017 season against Greeneville.
"He's started since he was a freshman, been one of the best football players I've seen in my lifetime in East Tennessee," Gillum said. "Those injuries, what a lot of people could consider career-ending injuries, he comes back stronger and better than ever."
Martin credits his faith - his grandfather was a pastor and he grew up in a Christian household.
"There's trials and there's tribulations but it's how you attack those and how you see those," Martin said. "James 1:2-4 says, 'Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.' Being able to see that and consider it joy when you're attacking these situations."
Martin expects to be back on the field in time to start the first game of the season against Carter on August 18.
Ryan Moog has stepped in at quarterback while Martin recovers. Anderson County has always had QB packages for Moog to take advantage of his running ability and Gillum thinks he can be one of the best receivers in the state when Martin comes back.
"We have had a lot of injuries from spring until now. Getting Stanton healthy and a couple other kids healthy would be number one," Gillum said. "But just over the course of the season we need to keep building and getting better and better and stay focused. We know that Elizabethton and Greeneville will be waiting in the playoffs if we do our part, but we've got to be a complete team."