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Fayettevilles visit to Page a homecoming for Palmer

Michael Roberts will help lead Page against Fayetteville and former head coach Alvin Palmer tonight in Rudderville.
Photo by Kevin Harvey

This week will be a homecoming of sorts for Alvin Palmer.

After spending 18 years as a coach in Williamson County, with head coaching positions at two different schools, Palmer will bring a fledgling varsity program from Fayetteville tonight to Rudderville and take on the Page Patriots.

“It will be nice to be back,” Palmer said.

Page was Palmer’s last job in Williamson County, where he spent two seasons as an assistant under Jackie Bennett (2002-03) and three more as head coach (2004-06). Current Pats coach Charles Rathbone owes much to Palmer, whom he considers a friend and respected colleague.

“He’s the one who brought me to Williamson County when he was at Franklin,” Rathbone said. “He’s a great guy and we respect each other a lot.”

But when the lights come on, both men will be all business.

“When 7 p.m. comes, it’s all about the game,” Palmer said.

Both teams are coming off losses last week, with Page losing to Giles County and the Tigers falling against Eagleville. 

Fayetteville (3-3) is a 1A school in its first year of varsity football, but the Tigers sprinted out of the gate this season, winning their first three games. 

The opportunity to face tougher competition can always be a learning experience, Palmer said.

“You can go out and schedule somebody just to get a win, but you don’t learn anything,” he said. “Playing a 4A team makes us better for our competition. It’s a good test for us.”

In the loss to Eagleville, however, the Tigers lost one of their top receivers in Ryan Yates, who likely is out for the year. Page (2-4) has its share of injury problems as well, with two of its top offensive linemen, Kell Custer and Hunter Adams, sidelined with injuries, along with receiver Tyler Thieman.

“We’re putting kids in places where they can have success,” Rathbone said. “Hopefully we can put some things together over the next couple games.”

Page’s high-powered offense, led by quarterback Zac Mizell, will have to adjust without two of its top linemen, and it’s up to the QB to make quicker decisions facing a very athletic Fayetteville defense.

“They can play one on one against our receivers, which allows them to blitz us, so Zac has to hit his check downs much quicker,” Rathbone said.

For Palmer and the Tigers, depth is an issue without several starters, since they will dress only 25 players against Page, he said. 

Since this team is full of young players, the challenges are great to fill in holes when injuries happen.

“We’ve done some reshuffling this week,” he said.

With Page having lost three of its last four and Fayetteville on a three-game losing streak, both are hungry for a win in this game.

“Anytime you lose, you want to get back out there as soon as possible,” Rathbone said. “I’m excited the game’s on Thursday. It’s going to be a fun time.”



Posted on: 10/10/2013


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