The time of year has come where football programs look at all the different scenarios it would take to get them into the postseason.
For the GMC Prep Bulldogs (2-2 region, 5-4 overall), there are a number of ways that would result in them landing in the GHSA Class A-Public state playoffs. Some are predicated on the Bulldogs’ on-field result this week while others have to do with other games being played in the region.
Second-year GMC Prep head coach Lee Coleman prefers the straight-line approach, win and his team is in.
“Like one of my assistant coaches stated yesterday, this is the playoffs right now,” Coleman said Monday. “You’ve got to win or you go home.”
Standing in the Bulldogs’ way are the Gryphons of ACE Charter (1-3 region, 2-6 overall) who are set to make the trip to Davenport Field Friday night. A win there would finalize GMC Prep’s position at third in the region and decisively end an 18-year postseason drought for the program. Coleman pointed out that his players are in uncharted territory as almost all of them had not even been born yet the last time the GMC Prep football advanced to the playoffs in 2002.
“We’re not used to playing in November,” said Coleman. “This is something these players have never done. They would normally be checked out right now.”
The ‘Dogs could still lose and end the program’s drought with a Warren County win over Wilkinson County, a result that is expected based on play so far this season.
GMC was granted an unexpected off week ahead of this week’s regular season finale. Coleman’s team was originally off this week as the ACE game was scheduled for Nov. 13. The Gryphons had some trouble with the coronavirus and had to move some games around, though. Coleman said he would have liked to have played on the original date so his team could take care of business and rest up for the playoffs, but he also likes the idea that waiting a week has almost created an extra postseason game for his team.
Still in its infancy as a varsity football program, ACE has just two wins this year over Pataula Charter and Crawford County (30-13). The Gryphons are coming off back-to-back drubbings at the hands of region top finishers Warren County (44-13) and Hancock Central (58-14). ACE, which stands for Academy for Classical Education, lost its talented running back from a year ago, but has found another offensive weapon to lean on in No. 7.
“No. 7 is a really good football player and he does a lot of things for them,” Coleman said.
From lining up at running back to wide receiver and even quarterbacking the wildcat formation, No. 7 will be all over the field for the Gryphons. Identifying where he’s lined up will be a big priority for the Bulldog defense this week. ACE likes to throw the ball at about a 60-40 clip according to Coleman, and will also show some unconventional formations and trick plays.
It’s not exactly win-or-go-home for GMC Prep football this week, but the team may as well get into that mindset with a likely postseason bid approaching.
Everyone will find out for sure whether or not that postseason drought will come to a close Friday night. GMC Prep and ACE will kick off from Davenport Field at 7:30 p.m.