By Chuck Reherman, Sports Editor – Southwest Covenant will make school history when the Patriots take the field for the opening round of the class C playoffs.
The Patriots will host a playoff game for the first time ever on Friday. SWCS hosts Sharon-Mutuel in the first round. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Patriot Field.
The Patriots, 8-2, earned their runner-up spot in District C-2 after beating Grandfield two weeks ago. SWCS had an open date last week and have had two weeks to prepare for the playoff game.
Sharon-Mutuel, also 8-2, earned the No. 3 spot after beating Buffalo 38-20. The Trojans actually finished tied for second in the district, but fell to the third place spot since the team lost to Timberlake in their district game. Sharon-Mutuel finished 5-2 in their district race.
The teams have similarities. Both like to run the ball, but have quarterbacks that can air it out. SWCS averaged 45 points a game, while allowing 22. Sharon averaged 48 points and allowed 24.
“It is a good feeling to play that first playoff game at home,” SWCS head coach Trey Cloud said. “At least we don’t have to drive to Timbuktu.
“The players are excited about it and it is the first time we have ever gotten to do this,” he said. “It is exciting, hopefully we will have a good crowd out and we go out and play well against a very good team.”
The Patriots face a Sharon-Mutuel team that is a big play team. Runningback Alex Carter has run for more than 1,500 yards this season. Quarterback Jerret Darden is a dual threat player. The Trojans have used him more as a runner this season, but had can put the ball in the air and has a good target in 6-2 senior Chase White.
“Sharon-Mutuel is a very physical team and they like to run the football,” Cloud said. “They will line up in a lot of different formations and use the quarterback and runningback to run the ball. They do like to play that old-fashioned power football. They will definitely be a challenge for us.
“One of our goals was to make it to the playoffs and host a playoff game,” he said. “We have accomplished that and now are ready to move on to our next goals.”
The Patriots should be healthier going into the playoffs with the week off to get rested. With as tight as the C-1 race was, the team did have to wait until Saturday to find out who they were going to play.
“We had an idea, but we really could have played one of three teams,” he said. “We spent that week working on us and we have worked this week preparing for Sharon-Mutuel.”
The Patriot offense has also been a big-play type of offense and will be looking to continue that this week.
Quarterback Sam Webb has not had to throw the ball as much in recent weeks since the running game has been dominant and district opponents. Trevor Kelly and Nathan Hagan have keyed the running game.
“We feel we can take advantage of our speed in the running game to have success on offense against their defense,” Cloud said. ‘They do have a good defensive bunch, but we will get into some different formations, get a look that we like and move the ball.
“We will try to keep them on their toes on defense,” he said. “We can come out throwing the ball and spread them out, then come back with the run game. We will take what they give us.
“Defensively, we have to limit those big runs,” he said. “We want to make them have to grind out the ball. The more plays they run, the better chance they have of making mistakes.
“It will be an interesting game,” he said. “We need to limit their big plays and force them into turnovers and then not turn over the ball ourselves.”