The North Hall football team has been here before.
Going into Game 10 of last season, the Trojans needed a win against Dawson County to earn the No. 2 seed out of Region 7-3A and a home playoff game to start the postseason. This week, on the last Friday of this year’s regular season, the situation is identical.
Last year, North Hall came up just a little short in a 17-10 loss in overtime. But Trojans coach David Bishop said the team took plenty of positive experience out of the defeat.
“I think we learned a little bit from how we played and didn’t play last year going into this game,” he said. “Things we have to do to be coming out on the other end this time around.”
Among the most notable lessons is the importance of consistent effort.
North Hall had multiple opportunities to win 2018’s game in regulation, but the Trojans failed to pick up the one first down needed to run out the clock in the fourth quarter, letting the Tigers get back into the contest.
“You’re going to have to play a little bit harder and execute a little better in those situations,” Bishop said.
North Hall will have its work cut out for it against an explosive Dawson County team that has scored at least 45 points in four of its last five games. Bishop said the Tigers chemistry is what stands out the most on tape. It’s a team that likes to play at a quick pace to pile points up on opponents early in games.
In contrast, the Trojans will opt for a more methodical offensive attack, as they attempt to control the clock and take the energy out of the Tigers. It’s a clash that Bishop referred to as “an evenly matched battle of two different styles.”
“When you look at (Dawson County), they play together,” Bishop added. “They play for each other. They play hard. They play fast. The only thing you can do with a team like that is to continue to be consistent and grind the ball down the field and take that away from them.”
For the second straight year, this matchup provides both teams with an opportunity to play in a playoff-like environment. With postseason home field advantage still up for grabs, the intensity at Lynn Cottrell Field is going to be at an all time high.
Whether the Trojans can win on Friday and earn a home playoff game or not, this matchup will give the team a chance to feel high stakes pressure and build momentum going into the postseason
“I think it helps a lot when you consider that there’s something on the line in the last game,” Bishop said. “You’re getting ready to go into the playoffs, and you’re not just playing a game. You’re playing to get into a home field situation. … To know that this is on the line right here, that’s kind of neat because it does prepare you mentally for those types of things going into the playoffs.”