Lessons learned for Plainview, Madill in 2012
There's nothing in sports quite like redemption.
From Rocky Balboa reclaiming his heavyweight title against Clubber Lang to the Mighty Ducks' triumph over the Hawks, there's nothing quite like a good comeback story.
And with other contenders falling by the wayside, Plainview (9-2) will look to make the most of its newest opportunity when it travels to face an undefeated Seminole squad.
"They're a very good football team," coach Chris Berus said. "They've won four state titles and (Seminole head coach Mike Snyder) has been there for 30-plus years."
Snyder has established the Chieftains (10-0) as a benchmark program in the state, the second Plainview will face in the regular season.
"This will be the best team we've faced since Tuttle," Berus said.
Plainview came up short in that season-opening test, falling 40-7 to the preseason top-ranked Tigers as a young group still searching for its identity.
Ten weeks later, the Indians barely resemble the uncertain group that looked outclassed in week 1. Plainview has evolved into a premier offensive team, scoring seemingly at will against every team it has faced.
"It's exciting that this team is hitting on all cylinders like it is right now," Berus said. "We're going against a great team and a great program at our best."
It will take all the Indians have, and more, against this Seminole team. Led by a potent running game and a 'Thunder-and-Lightning' running back combo of senior Trenton Newson and sophomore Seth Lozier, the Chieftains have defeated nine of their 10 opponents by 24 points or more.
"These are the kinds of the games that you want to play," Berus said. "Because you want to see how you measure up."
But Berus mentioned the importance, despite what's at stake, of keeping an even keel.
"There are some worries in a situation like this that you come in a little too focused, a little too overcharged," Berus said. "But this group, especially the seniors, have taken a very workmanlike approach to every week.
"They'll be ready."
Madill facing familiar foe
Sometimes, especially when you're as cautious at Madill coach Milton Cooper, it's the enemy within that can cause the most worries.
A week after a closer-than-expected 27-14 win against a tough Star Spencer, the unbeaten Wildcats (11-0) will face what may feel like a mirror version of itself in Blanchard.
The Lions (9-1) employ a similar spread offense to Madill, with just as much success. Blanchard has averaged 40.9 points per game and topped 50 points four times.
"It's actually a concern because we believe in the offense so much," Cooper said. They're probably the best offense, scheme-wise, we've played since Plainview."
To stop that attack, Cooper will depend on a Wildcat defense that carried the squad during a midseason injury to quarterback Paten Bond.
"We've improved defensively so much this year, especially with the way they've played with some of the injuries on offense," Cooper said. "They stepped it up and made some things happen for us."
Madill will be looking for redemption of its own by seeking to improve on last season's efforts, when the Wildcats were bounced in the second round of the playoffs. In addition, there is the growing presence of the team's undefeated mark, and a chance at one of the best years in the history of the school.
But if his team is feeling the burden, Cooper hasn't seen it.
"I think it's just been the normal pressure of playoff football around here," Cooper said. We talked about it last week and made the analogy of 'no pressure, no diamonds.'
"I think the key is they just keep believing."