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Irish grid celebration includes Tilley-Lane honor

The Knoxville Catholic football team did more than win the Class 3A State Championship in 2008.

They also become the first school not named Farragut to win farragutpress’ “How the West was Won” Trophy, presented by Tilley-Lane Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep of Lenoir City.

The trophy, earned by compiling the best regular season record (10-0) among FHS, Bearden, Christian Academy of Knoxville and Webb School of Knoxville, was formally presented to head coach Mark Pemberton and the Irish Sunday evening, March 22, at the Catholic Football banquet at KCHS.

The trophy, a Bronze Cowboy Hat, was presented by Jay Tilley of Tilley-Lane Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep.

During his presentation, Tilley congratulated “the fans, the cheerleaders, the behind-the-scenes people that make it all happen, and especially the players and coaches.”

Later he added, “The dealership and its 30 employees are proud to be associated with this award. We are all a part of this community and it means a lot to be associated with the tradition of high school football in this area.”

In winning the program’s first-ever football state crown, Catholic went on to compile a perfect 15-0 record.

The 2008 Catholic team celebrated its championship season during a night of festivities which included two very special guests – guest speaker and former Tennesse Volunteers head football coach Phillip Fulmer and recently ordained Catholic Bishop Richard F. Stika of the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville.

Bishop Stika addressed the crowd and joked that he saw the championship rings the boys were going to get and “it was twice the size of my new ring.”

Coach Fulmer’s speech to the Irish players focused little on football but gave the boys something to think about. “This is an amazing time in your life that you will never get back,” said Fulmer. “Enjoy it.”

The evening ended with a special tribute to the Irish seniors.

Throughout 2008 coach Pemberton gave so much credit for the eventual championship season to the quality of his senior leadership. The Irish faithful are hoping they left notes for the 2009 team.

The 2009 TSSAA realignment of districts/regions will put Catholic in the same district as perennial contenders Bearden, Farragut and Maryville for regular seaosn play. “Our schedule is definitely our biggest challenge for next year, I feel like we are going to be a strong team, but the schedule will be tough,” said KCHS quarterback Tyler Williamson.

The Irish will get the opportunity to defend its Tilley-Lane “How the West was Won” title in head-to-head match-ups against the three of the other four teams competing for bragging rights in West Knox County, including archrival Webb.

Catholic will play on the road at Farragut and Webb, and will be home at Blaine Stadium to face the BHS Bulldogs.

Christian Academy is not on the Irish schedule.


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