Week 2 playoff game capsules
It appears West Hall will be playing with house money from here on out.
After capturing their first playoff win in 16 years, Spartans coach Tony Lotti preached to his kids all week long that they’re gonna play hard and they’ll just let the chips fall where they may against No. 2 Thomson tonight in Thomson.
“I Just don’t ever want them to live their lives ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda,’ Lotti said. “You know, just give it all you got and look at each other when it’s all over. Control the controllables and we can control certain things on our end.”
The Spartans (7-4) know the most important variable will be to control line of scrimmage. The Bulldogs (11-0) boast a hefty offensive front with shifty ball carriers capable of breaking the game wide open.
The Bulldogs had six takeaways, including five interceptions, against Americas-Sumter in the first round. An offense driven by senior running back Michael Thomas logged over 500 yards of offense — 335 on just 10 carries from Thomas, who scored five touchdowns — in a 57-23 win.
“Can we get in the right positions and, when we get in the right positions, can we actually make tackles? That’s gonna be the big test for us, especially,” Lotti said.
Lotti has his kids playing with a sense of belief and resiliency, especially on the defensive side. Big-time plays proved crucial in the Spartans capturing their first playoff win under Lotti last week. Ashun Favorite had four interceptions, his fourth coming in the final minute to preserve a 24-21 upset of No. 8 Troup.
Linebacker George Lira and Michael Kidd are among a confident Spartan bunch following a great week of preparation. Kidd acknowledged Thomson’s offensive talent, but it’s not enough to sell their defense of “speed demons” short. Kidd feels as long as they can stop the run and force the Bulldogs to beat them through the air, they will have the upper hand.
“They are big, but when you got heart, you can do anything,” Kidd said. “I feel like, their line may be big, but they’re not the fastest. We have a lot of speed on defense. Like coach says, we can be some speed demons, just go out there and do that. Just be fast and physical.”
Lotti added they’ll have to make the most out of their possessions in order to limit their run-heavy opponents. The Spartans produced 100-plus yard outings from both seniors Tyrese Osborne and A.J. Favorite, who scored the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter, against Troup.
“We gotta try to sustain drives to keep their offense off the field, because of the fact of how strong they are,” Lotti added. “They are just really a great football team all around. They are athletic, big and physical. It is very important we don’t do things to set them up — don’t try to make the mistakes they can capitalize on, and jump on us.”
The Bulldogs have scored 50 or more points five times this season, also adding 3,562 yards on the ground in 11 games. Thomas has 1,745 yards and 19 touchdowns for the Bulldogs this season.
“If we just do our assignments, we’ll be able to stop them. We’re just focused,” said Lira who leads the team in tackles with 75 and has seven sacks for the Spartans.
The Spartans also seek their first-ever third-round appearance on Friday night.