New Season, Old Reason: Indians embark on playoff run with title aspirationsPublished 11:26am Thursday, November 7, 2013
With securing an Alabama High School Athletic Association playoff spot comes a multitude of feelings.
Bravado. Sense of Accomplish. Urgency. Relief. Excitement and Eagerness. These are just a few of the emotions that encapsulate teams as they prepare for a journey that can lead them to a state championship.
And that’s what the Wetumpka Indians (6-4) are playing for and those emotions are what it’ll be playing with when it takes the field Friday night against the Class 6A, Region 2 winner Daphne Trojans (8-2) at Daphne.
“It is a new season and it is unique,” said Wetumpka head coach Tim Perry. “Now we’ve entered into a single-game season. You take care of business on Friday night, you get to play another round. Your season doesn’t come to an abrupt end, which in some ways is tough because of the excitement of the playoffs.
“Another thing that unique about it is that your season is either going to end, when you enter the playoffs, with a loss or a state championship. That’s the reality and that’s what we play for. You’ve played 10 games to position yourself as a team to qualify for the playoffs. So, it’s a very exciting time of year. You have opportunity to teams that you may or may not have ever played before–certainly haven’t played in the regular season. It’s exciting. Also, a sense of accomplishment in that it’s a goal that you set. You know, 10 weeks later, you’ve achieved that goal.”
The Indians march into the postseason parading a four-game win streak. Not to be outdone, the Trojans sport a five-game win streak of their own.
One team will extend their streak Friday, while the other’s year will take their jersey and pads off for the last time this season. Perry hopes his team can rise to the occasion of keeping its season alive in the “single-game season.
“There’s a more sense of urgency associated with this time of year,” he said. “During the regular season, there’s always next week. If things don’t go well (one)week, then you have next week to make the corrections. In the playoffs, you aren’t guaranteed that next game. If you don’t play well in a playoff game, then you can’t take the approach of we’ll look at film and we’ll correct errors, then next week we’ll be better. There’s not a next week. There’s a little bit more sense of urgency once you’ve entered into this single-game season.”
Daphne is just three years removed from hoisting the 6A state championship trophy. In 2010, they were led by Alabama’s Mr. Football and current University of Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon.
While Yeldon is no longer there, the Trojans still have the athletes to be a title contenders. They will be well-versed in winning, as will every other team in the playoffs. But postseason wins come from who stops who from doing what they do.
“You know, we have a gameplan. We have a plan as to how we want to approach this game. I don’t know that it has so much to do with another team’s strengths or weaknesses, but it has more to do with what we do well.”
Perry feels like his team, they way they’ve performed the last five weeks, will present a tough challenge for Daphne as well.
“Daphne is a very well-coached team. Coach Glenn Vickery is a very successful, experienced head coach. Daphne has great tradition, they are a perennial state playoff qualifying team,” said Perry. “They’ve won a state championship in recent years. So, we know that we’re facing a very formidable opponent in Daphne. Their players are accustomed to being in the playoffs. But we are feel like our team is peaking at the right time. We are playing our best football in all areas of the game. That doesn’t mean we are perfect, doesn’t mean that there are numerous things we need to improve on. But the pluses are outweighing the minuses this time of year and that’s what you strive for as a coaching staff.
“We feel good about this opportunity, we feel like we’re playing well. We have a great deal of respect for Daphne. But we also are playing well. We feel like if we can go out and maintain this level of play then we feel good about this opportunity.”