A year ago, Summit High School football got a goal. Get back to Cookeville and finish.
The team fell in a tough 30-7 loss to Knox Central in the 5A state game last season, one that saw the Wade twins, Destin and Keaten, find their prestigious footing on the gridiron as two of the midstate's best.
While the path to get there was unthinkable when the goal was made, it was met all the same.
Ole Sparty withstood the pandemic season and losing one of its best players for most of the year for a 28-7 victory over Oak Ridge in the 5A Blue Cross Bowl state title game at Tennessee Tech's Tucker Stadium to claim its first-ever state title.
It's the first time a team from Williamson County Schools has taken home the gold ball in five years, with Ravenwood (6A) and Independence (then-5A) both winning championships in 2015.
Indeed, Summit had four COVID-19 related cancellations, only played one game in the month of October, lost elite college prospect Keaten Wade for long stretches in the year with injury and only played at home five times in 2020.
They also had to play playoff road warriors past round two, despite only losing one game in September to Franklin.
This tough circumstances didn't stop the team from overcoming a lion's share of adversity. It also saw quarterback Destin Wade hone his craft and improve his air game. His ground game has always been lethal, of course, but the air attack has become nearly as potent.
Not surprising, Destin Wade was the state game's MVP with 135 yards and a touchdown in the air and 95 yards and two scores on the ground.
The Spartans' hot start is a big reason why the team was so jubilant at the final horn. It got off to a 21-0 start by midway through the second quarter, complete with two Wade scrambles from short and an 18-yard dart to Brady Pierce.
Oak Ridge QB Mitchell Gibbons found Brandon Heyward for a touchdown just before half, giving the opponent 7 and Summit a 21-7 half at the break.
The third quarter was quiet and full of yellow flags as the game got a little sloppy for both sides. The Summit offense slowed a bit after its thunderous start, and Oak Ridge started moving the ball with greater success. It didn't get points for either side, but in moments, it seemed like momentum was up for grabs.
Grabbed it was by Pierce, who made perhaps the play of the game on a pick-six from Gibbons with 11:01 to go in the fourth. It was the only score in the second half for either team, with a 21-point deficit just too much for Oak Ridge to dig out of by that point.
Summit managed the clock well and made it to 0:00, celebrating a season to remember (and in some ways, happy to have over) with the school's first state football title in its 10-year history.
The Wade twins have taken Summit football to a new level, as has head coach Brian Coleman's ascension as one of the best football coaches in the county. The offense is clever and does what it does well, and the staff deserves a lot of credit for developing Destin Wade as a stellar pocket passer.
The defense plays with a lot of fire and has some of the best fundamentals around. The school is making the leap up to 6A next season to play against WillCo teams Brentwood, Ravenwood, Franklin, rival Independence and Centennial.
The work will be cut out for them, certainly, but they'll have their final game in 5A, one that made all the hardship to get back to Cookeville worth it.
Summit's Brandon King, who provided sparks in the run game, finished with 55 yards, while Pierce, who is a co-MVP in spirit, had three catches for 88 yards, including his score. The team finishes the year 14-1, with a world of possibility ahead of it in 6A and one last, best memory in 5A to cherish.