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Close loss could spark future success

Woodrow Lowe Jr. looked out over the field at Thurmond Reynolds Stadium last Friday night.

It was empty and quiet with a few of the guys on his coaching staff getting gameday equipment up and discussing the game that had just ended.

The look all the coaches’ faces showed a mix of frustration and hope.

Hope because the Indians competed well with Dyersburg, an undefeated team whose average margin of victory going into the game was 31.2 points. Their closest game was a 24-0 shutout of Covington.

But North Side had held the Trojans scoreless through nearly three quarters.

The frustration was because of missed opportunities to pick up a big win.

But Lowe said he saw frustration on his players’ faces in the locker room a few minutes earlier right after the game ended. That was a good sign for him.

“They were in there feeling bad,” Lowe said. “Like they felt like they had a chance and let it slip away.

“When you see that in the team, you know it meant something to them and they felt they had a shot against a very good team.”

This situation isn’t new for Lowe.

Serving as head coach for his third program in TSSAA football, he’s shown he knows a thing or two about rebuilding once proud programs.

He compared last week’s loss to one his first team at Bolivar in 2014 suffered.

“We lost our first few games at Bolivar, and then one week late in the season we played a team that was having a good year that we weren’t supposed to compete against,” Lowe said.

That team was Hardin County, who won their region that year and made it to the second round of the Class 4A playoffs.

But on that night in late October in Savannah, the green Tigers fought until the end and nearly pulled off what would’ve been their marquee victory to end the season on a four-game win streak. But winning three of four to end the year and having that game as the loss in that stretch wasn’t the worst way to end Year 1 at Bolivar for Lowe.

“A lot of light bulbs went on that night, and I think a lot of the guys started to buy in to what we were trying to do,” Lowe said.

So could the North Side equivalent to that game have happened last week?

“I hope so, but it’s hard to tell with kids sometimes,” Lowe said. “But they worked hard for this game. We had a good week of practice. We just came up short and ran out of time.”

Time will tell if last week’s loss will have a similar effect. But if it does, something to look for in the future is past results.

Bolivar finished 2014 at 3-7. The next two years, they finished 6-4 and then 8-2 before being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs both years.

The playoffs this year are still very much possible for the Indians. They’re 1-1 in region play with games against South Side, South Gibson and Chester County remaining.

“If they keep working like they did this week, they’ll see it pay off,” Lowe said. “We’ve just got to keep the work ethic, focus and intensity up and leave it on the field on Fridays.”

Brandon Shields,

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