JASPER, TN (WRCB) -- It's been a tough couple weeks for the Marion County community. But now they're focused on healing.
Down four coaches amidst a vandalism scandal with added rumors to the likes no high school in this area has ever seen, Marion County players say it's not resent they're battling, it's an emotional hurt left by three assistant coaches and one head coach, the man they saw as a role model.
Senior Wide Receiver Clay O'Shields said, "that tends to be a bit of a heartbreak when your role model turns out to be not the person you expected them to be. What we realized now, we have to be role models for our school."
O'Shields says it all happened fast and instead of wondering why they adapted. Now they're focused on the future. In turn it's brought the team, school and community closer together.
"There's a point where you have to stop worrying about all the outside noise even though it's so close and start focusing on what's important, that's playing the game and playing it the right way," said O'Shields.
Senior Center Mason Hargis said, "we've pulled together as a team. We've come together. That's all that matters, when your team comes close you can't be stopped."
Middle school head coach Larry Richards will step in as interim head coach, he's been a part of Marion county football since he graduated in 1979, "we try to explain to them life goes on. You're gonna have things in life that don't go the way you think they should. We've all been through it. It's how you react that matters. Get stronger from it and go on."
Richards says there's no question they won't just survive this but become stronger, something they have to do for the student athletes, "they've worked hard, it's their program. They're hometown kids, all from here and have worked hard. They deserve all they can get and they deserve support. There's no worries there. They believe in themselves, that's what matters and we believe in them. So we're gonna go on."