It’s playoff time for Texas high school football.
Those that were lucky enough to make it to this part of the season will continue the long, challenging march with one goal in mind — to carry the state trophy off the field at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington next month.
The second season starts this week with the bi-district playoff round and area teams are getting ready, knowing that there’s no more room for error at this point.
The Monahans Loboes completed the regular season at a perfect 10-0, which included a District 1-4A, Div. II title.
However, Monahans head coach Fred Staugh and his players now have bigger goals in mind as they look to get even further than last year’s postseason run.
Monahans will begin its playoff run when the Loboes face Borger (4-6) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Peoples Bank Stadium in Wolfforth.
“I think it’s a one game season now for us in the playoffs,” Staugh said. “We’re just really focused on today and getting better today and doing everything in our power to play on Thursday,”
Last year, the Loboes advanced to the 4A Division II Regional finals, losing to Glen Rose, 62-14.
However, with so many returning players on this year’s team, Monahans has so far been perfect in each challenge its faced.
But if there was a bull target on the Loboes’ backs this season, it’s gotten even bigger as they enter the playoffs undefeated.
All they can do is worry about themselves.
“I think it’s what we preach to our kids which is that it’s about us,” Staugh said. “We’re going to focus on us. The goal in everything that we do, whether it’s film or lifting weights, it’s that we’re going to get better and worry about the health of our program. That’s really what we focus on. I know we have a target on our backs, but we’re only focused on us and we want to be the best football team that we can be. On Thursday night, we need to play our best game of the year.”
Some adjustments will be made including a shorter week to prepare since this week’s game will be on a Thursday.
That shouldn’t be a problem as Staugh said his team has played on Thursday nights before.
“You have to adjust to some things,” Staugh said. “A lot of our kids are actually used to it. We’ve played a lot of games on Thursdays in the first round the last couple of years. It does present some challenges, but our kids adjust well. They just focus on whatever we’re asking them to do.”
Monahans wrapped up its regular season with a 40-0 win over Clint last Friday on the road.
It was a game in which the Loboes’ offense only needed a few possessions to take care of business.
“I thought it was a unique game for sure,” Staugh said. “We only had five possessions, offensively but part of that was we scored two defensive touchdowns and we scored two special teams touchdowns. It was good and I think there are a lot of lessons to be coming out of there. You never know when you’re going to be called on to make a play. And then in the playoffs, you never know how you’re going to win a game. it could be defensively or it could be special teams so all three phases are very important.”
Despite Borger’s record, Staugh still knows of the threat the Bulldogs can bring.
“I think they have quite a bit of skill,” Staugh said. “They have speed. They’re well coached and we have to go in and play our best and give them everything we’ve got.”
>> PLAYING OUT OF STATE: In one of the more unique settings for this week’s playoff games, the Andrews Mustangs will be going out of state to play their bi-district game.
Andrews (5-5) will face El Paso Austin (5-5) at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Bulldog Bowl in Artesia, N.M.
The reason the game is being played out of state is because it helps cut the amount of traveling distance.
Andrews to El Paso is about 273 miles. The venue in Artesia, N.M. cuts that in half.
“As far as the location, it’s a beautiful stadium,” Andrews head coach Tom Harvey said. “I think it was their idea. What they don’t know is that we have like four or five kids that have lived over there before. They might not have been so quick to do that, but we have a few kids that have been in that school system in Artesia so they’re pretty excited about going over there to play. At the end of the day, it’s still 100 yards and all that stuff. But it is a beautiful field and we’re honored to get to play on it.”
As both teams’ records will show, there are some similarities.
“We don’t know a lot about them,” Harvey said. “We’ve seen about two or three films on them. They look a lot like us. They don’t really throw the ball a whole lot. That’s what we know about them. They’re huge. They’re a really big team.”
The Mustangs finished out the regular season with a 62-27 win over Big Spring last week at Mustang Bowl.
“What gets lost is how good of a job (Big Spring head coach) Cannon McWilliams and his guys do,” Harvey said. “I thought the score wasn’t indicative of how well they fought and how well they prepared their kids. It kind of got away from them late, but they’re a really good team. They’re on the right track over there. I expect Big Spring to win this week as well.”
>> COMPASS ACADEMY: The Cougars (4-6) will finally begin their postseason run when they face Early (5-5) at 7 p.m. Friday at San Angelo’s San Angelo Stadium.
The Cougars, who already had a playoff spot secured thanks to their four-team district, are coming off a 42-0 win over Tornillo as Compass Academy searches for its first playoff win in program history.
Friday’s game will be a rematch of last year’s bi-district contest in which Early won, 62-0.