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Hunter Palmer leads the Tullahoma High School team during a running drill during summer workouts last Thursday. 

Summer workouts officially entered their second week on Monday for the Tullahoma High School football team. While the team activities are taking place, players will also be battling for a pair of highly-coveted jersey numbers, both of which remember the legacy of two dedicated former Wildcats, both of whom tragically died in car accidents.

New this year, Tullahoma will pay tribute to Jason Few by unretiring his No. 66 jersey. Few, who played as a lineman for the Wildcats, died in car accident in December of 1988.

“I didn’t get a chance to coach Jason,” said THS Head Coach John Olive. “I know his mom and dad, Martha and Jim Few. His father has passed away now. But I knew both of them and I know the legacy that Jason had here at Tullahoma, not only at the high school but in our community.”

On top of honoring Few, Tullahoma will once again pay tribute to former Wildcats’ quarterback Eli Grow, who died in a car accident in 2016. The last two years, THS players have been battling for the No. 8 jersey that was donned by Grow. In 2017, Race Marin was the first player to wear the No. 8 jersey, while Matthew Ross received the honor last year.

While the Wildcats honored Grow’s legacy, that No. 8 could only go to players at the skill position. Due to football number, offensive and defensive linemen were automatically disqualified from receiving that honor, no matter how hard they worked in the offseason.

Last summer, Olive said it was then-senior defensive end Ty Cox who spoke up about how unfair it was to defensive and offensive linemen. Cox lead the Wildcats in tackles and sacks, and was named to Class 4A All-State Team.

“I then went and met with Martha and ask her if we could unretire her son’s jersey so that a lineman could have the privilege of wearing that jersey,” Olive said.

While players will be battling for the two jersey numbers, it isn’t a given that both numbers will be on the field for Tullahoma this coming season. Olive said he and his coaching staff will talk during the dead period at the end of June, to see if they think there are players who are deserving to wear either number.

“So far we’ve had somebody each year earn that right to wear number eight, but that’s not a given every year,” Olive said. “We will decide every year, did somebody do the extra things that Eli Grow did to earn the right to wear that jersey? The same thing will apply with Jason’s jersey. Have they done the extra stuff, have they worked extra hard, when the coaches aren’t looking, when the coaches aren’t around, are they doing all the extra things that it takes to earn the privilege to wear one of those jerseys?”

If the answer is yes, Olive said those jersey selections would come once players resume summer practices after the dead period in July. Tullahoma kicks off the regular season at Shelbyville on Aug. 22.