It doesn't get any more dramatic than the manner in which the Bremen High School football team earned itself a ticket to the Class AAA state playoffs last Friday.
Now that they're among the field of 32, the third-seeded Blue Devils are looking to make the most of the opportunity tonight at 7:30 in round one when they travel to Atlanta to face second-seeded Lovett at Memorial Stadium.
Led by second-year head coach Davis Russell, Bremen (9-1) has dialed itself in by focusing on going 1-0 with each passing week. In their preparation for the first round of the state playoffs, the head Blue Devil has noticed an even heightened focus from his players all week long.
"When we came out to start the week, we had our best Monday we've had all year," Russell said. "Our kids are most certainly excited about the opportunity to play in the playoffs. There's been lots of focus with these guys and a team like Lovett forces you to be focused."
No. 9 Bremen versus No. 10 Lovett serves as the marquee first-round matchup in Class AAA, as it is the only game that pits a pair of ranked teams against one another this early in the bracket.
Just to reach this point, the Blue Devils had to survive a playoff-like atmosphere at Ringgold last week in a Region 6-AAA play-in game. Down 22-14 late, a Makai Terry interception swung momentum toward the road team, which led to eventual touchdowns by Tyran Dobbs and Nick Vaughn to take the lead. After the Tigers pulled within one with a touchdown in the final minute, a Nate Daniels and Kade Berry pass breakup on the two-point try sealed Bremen's postseason berth.
The Blue Devils will now bus on over to the private school to go head-to-head with a Lovett team that poses to be one of the more skilled opponents Russell and staff have had to game plan for all season long.
"They're very talented," Russell said. "You have to be really focused on your job because one missed alignment and one busted play will exploit you."
Representing Region 5-AAA, the Lions (6-4) got hot down the stretch by winning five of their last six ballgames by an average margin of 32.4 points. Russell went into detail of what makes the Lovett machine operate.
Lovett quarterback Blaine McAllister has completed 95-of-153 attempts for 1,455 yards and 16 touchdowns this season in the pass-oriented attack, as the Lions don't have a rusher with more than 250 yards on the season.
"They have two kids in No. 21 (Nick Jackson) and No. 3 (KJ Wallace) who are very talented players on both sides of the ball," Russell said. "You can just tell on film how well-coached they are and how they're fundamentally-sound. Their kids play with a great level of passion, energy and focus."
That passion, energy and focus is something that the Blue Devils will have to match when once again hitting the road, where they've been a perfect 6-for-6 this season. Russell would've loved the opportunity to play on their home turf during the playoffs, but playing away from home at this point is not a deterrent to the will of his football team.
"I hate that they don't get a home game because when you're 9-1, you're very deserving of a home game." Russell said. "But our kids are resilient, tough and don't care if we're on the road or at home. Our fans travel well, so we'll try to make it a home field and play as hard as we can. It's going to be fun."
Tonight's contest will broadcast live on Great Classics 98.9 FM.