The scoreboard at Harris County was still alight on Monday afternoon, the numbers ‘24-21’ shining as a reminder of the team’s victory over Glynn Academy in the first round of the playoffs.
That was the only reminder of that game, though. Players and coaches have moved on and turned their attention to Round 2. It’s a good thing, as the Tigers will travel to play at undefeated Creekside on Friday.
“We’re really excited to get back to the second round,” quarterback TaQuon Marshall said. “We want to get back to where we were last year. Right now, though, we’re just taking it one game at a time, and we’ll see what happens.”
The game on Friday will be the first meeting between the two teams. Parks and his players can look at Creekside’s results and its head coach to gain a little knowledge about their opponent.
Coached by former Carver assistant coach Olten Downs, the Seminoles have won every game but two by double digits. Parks said he knows the team has a history of being very athletic, and he expects the same this week.
Most importantly, though, he knows it will be a challenge.
“There’s a reason they’re still playing,” he said. “There’s 16 teams left in the playoffs. Everyone you face is tough.”
The key, Marshall said, was being mentally prepared. The fact his team will be on the road makes that mental preparation even more important.
“Really, going on the road, the biggest thing to focus on is your mental preparation,” he said. “Coach Parks and the others, they tell us when we go on the road that we’re already down seven. We just have to make sure all the guys around us are mentally prepared and focused.”
That’s been a strength all season. With the exception of a blowout loss at Lee County, Harris County has played fundamental football, protecting the football and executing its assignments.
“Any time you protect the ball offensively and then create turnovers on defense, that’s the key to winning ball games this time of year,” Parks said.
Especially against a team like Creekside, which has scored 40 or more six times and allowed less than 20 on nine occasions.
Still, Marshall said the Tigers don’t feel any pressure after the experience they gained during their run to the quarterfinals last season. Even this year, Harris County is battletested with a number of close wins over quality opponents (30-20 over Veterans, 31-30 over Bainbridge, 38-35 over Thomas County Central, 24-21 over Glynn Academy).
Harris County set a program record for wins in a season (nine) with the victory last week. Now, every week is just another step forward.
“All the pressure is on them,” Marshall said. “They’re 11-0. They want to stay undefeated. Our goal is to go down to their place and end it.”
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