A victory in last week's regular-season finale earned the Temple High School football team its first postseason berth since 2011. Now for head coach Scotty Ward and his ballclub, the primary objective is doing what they can to make sure they're not one and done.
The third-seeded Tigers will aim for the program's second postseason victory ever on Saturday at 7 p.m. when they travel to Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta to face second-seeded B.E.S.T. Academy in round one of the Class AA state playoffs.
Already in a playoff-like, win-or-go-home situation in last Friday's contest versus Lamar County, Temple (6-4) took full advantage of an offensive outburst from standouts Trey Johnson, D.J. "Flea" Winters and Daimar Ivey to punch its ticket with a 35-19 win. Ward liked how his guys performed in the showdown and hopes that it translates over to Saturday.
"I felt that we played pretty well. Other than a fumble, they never really stopped us," Ward said. "Offensively, we've done some really good things in these past few weeks. Defensively, we're playing hard but have to shore up a few things. What we did last week is what we have to bring on Saturday."
Ward and his Tigers have been readying themselves all week for B.E.S.T. Academy (5-5) out of Region 6-AA, which at some points have looked vulnerable throughout the 2017 campaign while at other points have looked dangerous when everything is clicking.
"Offensively, they're really big and have what seems like 1,000 sets. They have a ton of formations that we have to prepare for and that's going to be a big challenge," Ward said. "Their quarterback (Nakia Davis Jr.) is a lefty who can run and throw. They have a 6-3, 215-pound receiver/tight end hybrid (Keterian LeGrone) who's a (Central Florida) commit. He likes to line up outside and make plays from there. They also have multiple guys rotating in and out in their backfield, all guys that we have to account for."
The THS head coach also noted the challenges Johnson, Winters and Co. could be facing on the offensive side of the football.
"They're really big defensively and can fly around the field," Ward said. "We just have to make sure that we can do what we do offensively and know who to block. I think our linemen run pretty well so we hope that will offset their speed."
Preparing for a ballgame in mid-November is already a unique experience for Temple as it is, but almost as foreign is playing a game on Saturday instead of under the traditional Friday night lights. It's a different experience, but the head coach and his players are confident that it won't impede the quest for making it to round two.
"Hopefully, we'll be in the right frame of mind for Saturday," Ward said. "I know a Saturday game can throw the whole week off, but it is what it is. We just have to go out and play like we know we can play."