A journey of grit and glory: Coach Shawn Witten’s and Michael Lunsford pursuit of high school football excellence

Published 9:31 pm Wednesday, November 8, 2023

BY C.Y. Peters

Winning a state title in any sport is the ultimate goal for athletes and coaches alike. In the case of Coach Shawn Witten, the head football coach at Elizabethton High School, his relentless work ethic and unwavering determination have brought him and his team to the pinnacle of high school football in their state. With two state titles and three trips to the state championship game in recent years, Coach Witten’s success is a testament to the value of preparation and perseverance.

As coaching legend Bobby Knight once said, “The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” Coach Witten has embraced this philosophy, ensuring that his teams are always well-prepared for the challenges they face on the field. His dedication to the game and his players has set a high standard for excellence in coaching.

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The journey to a state title is not an easy one. In the high school football landscape of Hampton and Elizabethton, there are 32 competitive teams vying for the coveted championship. The road to the state title game is arduous, and there is no room for error. After the regular season ends, it’s a fresh start, and teams must adapt to new opponents and challenges.

Hampton enjoys the advantage of playing on their home turf throughout the playoffs, which can be a significant morale booster. On the other hand, Elizabethton faces the demanding task of winning all their remaining games on the road. Their path to the state title is fraught with obstacles, including formidable opponents like Anderson County, Greenville, and the undefeated juggernaut Upperman.

For Coach Lunsford and his team, the journey includes a tough match-up against a resilient Bledsoe County team with an 8-2 record. If they emerge victorious, they may find themselves facing an undefeated York Institute with a perfect 12-0 season. And to reach the championship, they might have to clash once again with Marion County, a familiar playoff foe.

Vince Lombardi’s words, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up,” epitomize the spirit of these local teams. The path to a state title is fraught with challenges, but these athletes and coaches are determined to rise to the occasion. With the support of their communities and the guidance of exceptional coaches like Shawn Witten and Mike Lunsford, the journey promises to be filled with excitement and determination.

As the playoffs progress, football fans in Hampton and Elizabethton can look forward to a few more thrilling weeks of high-stakes football action. Regardless of the outcome, the dedication and resilience of these teams are a testament to the enduring spirit of competition and the pursuit of excellence. Good Luck to both teams and hope to see you in Chattanooga on Dec 2.