It's a story that has haunted Marion County High School for nearly three weeks, and now that story is getting national attention. Now the football players are rallying with the community to put the ordeal behind them.
"The athletic program at Marion County high in Jasper, Tennessee,Today's worst person in the sports world," Keith Olbermann proclaimed on his nightly ESPN show. That's the picture being painted nationally of Marion County High School, after a bizarre act of vandalism. One that led to the arrest of two Warrior assistants, and the resignation of head coach Mac McCurry.
Now some Marion County players are speaking out, looking to put the controversy behind them.
"It's frustrating, we have great kids and great coaching staff now that the bad has been removed and it bothers me a little bit that that tarnishes our name," says Marion County wide receiver Clay O'Shields.
"I gave them the benefit of the doubt until some of the things were released, some of the evidence. I totally just don't understand. I'm amazed that that actually went on," adds interim head coach Larry Richards.
A few weeks later, the graffiti is gone. Freshly painted walls in its place, and a group of players ready to move forward.
"The players have got us where we are at. I mean coaches can only do so much. Coaches can't play for you on Friday nights and our community understands that," says center Mason Hargis.
"Since the coaching staff has been depleted. It's the players that have started helping each other a lot. There have been a lot of leadership roles that have been filled by players," adds O'Shields.
"The student body is coming together. It's amazing the support. I've gotten messages from as far away as Central High School. In that way it has brought the community and everyone together in a lot closer way than we were," says Richards.
When the team hits the field for their state playoff game, they'll be a band of brothers playing for pride, and for a community still shaken by controversy.
"They understand what went on, and they weren't happy but they also know the team need them, they also know the community needs them, so we're going to pick it up," says Richards.
"Our team right now, I don't think we've ever been this close, we have a bond right now that can't be broken," adds O'Shields.
The Marion County community will fill the square Friday afternoon at 2 o'clock eastern to rally the team as they travel to Trousdale County for their TSSAA state playoff game.