Playoffs or bust

Tigers face a final opponent in regular season to determine playoff standings

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Playoffs or bust

Junior quarterback Rian Cellers avoids a Wylie East defender to complete a pass in the 40-13 win. The victory kept the post season hopes alive for the Tigers.

Junior quarterback Rian Cellers avoids a Wylie East defender to complete a pass in the 40-13 win. The victory kept the post season hopes alive for the Tigers.

Photo by Abby Elliott

Junior quarterback Rian Cellers avoids a Wylie East defender to complete a pass in the 40-13 win. The victory kept the post season hopes alive for the Tigers.

Photo by Abby Elliott

Photo by Abby Elliott

Junior quarterback Rian Cellers avoids a Wylie East defender to complete a pass in the 40-13 win. The victory kept the post season hopes alive for the Tigers.

Story by Caden Rainwater, sports editor

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Six games. Seven teams. Four spots.

The UIL Football State Playoffs is the ultimate standard to which any high school football team hopes to be able to hold themselves to. However, the Tigers didn’t make the playoffs last year, breaking a streak that has lasted for over a decade. This year, after finishing their first three district games with a record of 0-3, the Tigers found themselves in a detrimental situation: they needed to win-out the rest of the season with three consecutive wins to keep the hopes of playoff contention alive.

The first of three obstacles in the Tigers’ path was the Sherman Bearcats. With hopes high and the season hanging in the balance, the Tigers laid waste to the Bearcat defense by nearly scoring twice as many points as the Bearcat offense, ending the game with a 27-14 victory. 

“[We gave] the best effort we’ve given in about three weeks,” head coach Gerry Stanford said. “We’ve got two more games, and this game gives us a chance.”

The second crucial game for the Tigers was against the Wylie East Raiders last Friday night. This game was also an extremely important game that ended in the widest marginal win for the Tigers during district play. The Tigers, yet again, were victorious, ending the Raiders’ season by a score of 40-13. This continued the Raiders’ two-season streak of not having a single win in district play.

“The feeling of being so close to the playoffs is what I think is what drives us the most,” running back Braylon Steward said. “Coach Stanford always says all we got is us, so with that being said, we will continue to play as a team and push harder to make it to playoffs.”

Coming to a close on the regular season, clinching a spot in the playoffs becomes somewhat up to fate. Although the Tigers have complete control over the outcome of their season, the opposing team stands as a contender for the remaining playoff spot. The last game of the Tiger season is against the West Mesquite Wranglers, a team that lost to the Bearcats by 29. Meanwhile, the Tigers defeated the Bearcats by 13. Posing a clear advantage over the Wranglers, a win on Friday night is necessary for playoff contention.

“It’s time to execute and make plays gain yards and score,” Stewart said. “We’re going to push and start strong from the beginning to the end.”

The other contender for the fourth playoff spot is the Sherman Bearcats. Although they have already taken a loss to the Tigers, the Bearcats have the same 2-3 record going into the last game of the season. On Friday night, the Tigers will play the Wranglers for playoff contention, and the Bearcats will face the John Tyler Lions who are holding the third spot in district standings.

Should the Tigers defeat the Wranglers, and the Lions defeat the Bearcats, Texas High will advance to the playoffs and Sherman will not. However, if Sherman defeats the Lions, it will be a matter of who had the least points scored against them and the most points on the season, among the Lions, Bearcats and Tigers to determine playoff roles.

“The boys are going to have to push harder than they have had to all year,” defensive coach Matthew Schroeder said. “It’s all led up to this game, and even though it’s kind of out of our hands, we’re going to stay in control and win this game.”

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