TAZEWELL COUNTY, VA (WVNS) — For head football coach Tony Palmer and the Graham G-Men, their goal for the season is simple, to replicate and reach further than the prior year.
“We understand that, we know what our goals are coming into the season. So we still have to attack our goals daily and try to take care of the small things in order to be a good football team,” said Palmer.
The journey to do so starts with one of the most storied rivalries in the country.
Many of the guys who are set to brandish the G-Men star have not yet opened their season against Bluefield in Mitchell Stadium and they are excited to finally take the stage.
But they know this game is just one on the schedule, and they have to attack each one the same.
“The mental part of it is important, to make sure that we know where we need to be. It’s impossible to do your assignment if you don’t know where you need to be. So we just have to take baby steps and then build on this thing,” said Palmer.
In order to try and repeat their undefeated regular season, they put an exclamation point on their conditioning, as they call out the names of each of their upcoming opponents.
“It’s really motivating, and it gets you excited to show what you are made of,” said senior center and defensive tackle Ethan Alvis.
This season Palmer and the G-Men look to silence the doubters and prove they can repeat their success without star players Zach Blevins, Xayvion Turner-Bradshaw, and Brody Meadows.
“We just got to do what fits us. We understand that it’s the dynamic of our team is going to change each year. And we as coaches, we have to put ourselves in the best position to be successful and make adjustments where we need to,” said Palmer.
Palmer said he is confident the consistency his program cultivates will help to fill the gap.
“We’ve had guys get a lot of playing time last year that played behind them, so when you lose guys like that it can be hard to replace them but if you were doing what you were supposed to do you should be able to, then the other kids should be coming in and able to hold down what you were trying to establish,” said Palmer.
“Coach has really been pushing us. He really wants us to succeed and he’s really pushing us just to work as hard as we can and getting us ready for the season,” said Alvis.
For guys like lineman Connor Robertson and quarterback Brayden Meadows, they know in order to continue to build upon the Graham legacy, they need to put in the work in the offseason.
“Trying to be a leader, push them hard as they can, get them to condition right. Because when four quarters come around, we’re gonna be able to play six quarters,” said senior offensive and defensive lineman Cody Dolin.
The playoffs are where boys turn to men, and programs turn into dynasties. While the G-Men are a staple in the postseason they know nothing is given or guaranteed.
We have a chip on our shoulder because we know you have to prove yourself each season. Nobody cares about what you did last year. It’s about what you got in front of you. And that’s the way we attack you,” said Palmer.
Many on the team still feel the sting of their season-ending showdown in Salem.
“It was disappointing. Everybody, you know, brings it up to us all the time and stuff, and it just makes us want to work harder. They don’t know, but it makes us want to work,” said Dolin.
They believe their work in the offseason can produce a perfect postseason.