Even New Brockton head coach Zack Holmes sounds surprised, but his Gamecocks are still in the playoff hunt as they prepare for Friday night’s game at Providence Christian.
New Brockton (1-5, 1-3 in Class 2A, Region 2) will try to snap a four-game losing streak. The Gamecocks’ final two region games are against Providence (3-4, 1-3) tonight and Houston Academy (2-5, 1-3) next week.
“What’s crazy is if, Lord willing, we find a way to win next two, we’re in the playoffs,” Holmes said earlier this week. “It’s crazy to think about it. But all three of us lost to Opp, Slocomb and Wicksburg, and Providence beat HA. If we win the next two we make the playoffs.”
To win two you have to win this one. Holmes said Providence has obviously improved over the course of the season. He said the two programs have met the past two years in non-region games.
“They play really hard and get after it. Early on, they weren’t as successful as they’ve been in the past, but they got it turned around and are playing some really good football,” the coach said. “You can see it on film. They’ve gotten better as the season went on. That’s just a testament to the job coach (Kenny) Keith does over there.”
Holmes said the game will be another indicator where the New Brockton program is.
“We have a bunch of injuries and all kinds of stuff like that going on,” he said. “They played them the year before I got here and we played them last year, too. Obviously, those games didn’t go the way we wanted them to.
“It’s a chance to see how we’ve grown and how tough we are, that kind of stuff. But they’re disciplined, they get after it hard, play the game the right way. All the things you usually see from Providence.”
New Brockton has battled injuries during the pasts month. In last Friday’s loss to Northside Methodist quarterback Kaden Cupp and running back Jordan Tacey both went down in the second quarter and didn’t return.
“When you’re already down a bunch of guys, that’s tough,” Holmes said. “We got 46 guys on the roster and 12 of them are currently injured. Now, that’s part of football. We want to get our program where it’s a next-man-up mentality and the kids realize that and will step in there and continue to do a good job. That’s what we’re working on this week, trying to give our kids the best chance to win the game.”
Cupp and Tacey both will be game time decisions Friday night. Both miss considerable practice time. Backup quarterback Brayson Carr, who had been playing a receiver spot, played the second half for the Gamecocks.
“Brayson will do a good job if he has to play quarterback, but it’s better for our program if both those guys (Carr and Cupp) are on the field instead of just one of them,” Holmes said, adding that the injury situation eventually will pay dividends.
“There’s a lot of guys getting experience because of that. We’re playing a bunch of guys that will be back next year. For sure, they’re getting a lot of game experience and game reps that they wouldn’t have. In the long run, it’s going to pay off.”
But in a two-game sprint for the playoffs, it’s a challenge that will test your depth.
Kinston at Pleasant Home
The Bulldogs (2-5, 1-4 Class 1A, Region 1) were eliminated from the playoffs last week, but are eager to snap a three-game losing streak against winless Pleasant Home (0-6, 0-5).
“They’ve struggled a little bit scoring points, but when you look at them on film they’ve moved the ball some,” Kinston head coach Rudy Free said this week. “When you look at them, they’re not just bad. They do some good things.
“They can run it and throw it. They’re balanced. They don’t just run and they don’t just throw it.”
Free said Kinston will have to be ready to play Friday night.
“There’s not a game on our schedule we can line up and say we can just roll out there and win,” he said. “Hopefully, we can get ready this week and get back in the win column.”
Running back Addison Hudson sets the tone for Kinston’s ground-based attack. The Bulldogs haven’t won after starting the season 2-2.
“I think it’s almost like we’re waiting for the next bad thing to happen to us sometimes,” the coach said. “Somehow or another we’ve got to get away from that. The best way, I guess, is to play the next game and try to correct it.
“That’s one thing, this week at practice – sure, you look at the opponent and try to scheme for them a little bit – but I told our guys these last two weeks we’re going to work on getting better fundamentally.”
Reached on Tuesday, he said the players haven’t stopped playing hard.
“Yesterday we came in in the morning,” he said. “Holiday practices typically aren’t very good, but this one wasn’t bad. That’s a good sign. It’s all about attitude and how you go about it day by day.”
Follow Ken Rogers on Twitter @debamabeat.
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