It’s officially happening. The unthinkable: The Green Bobcats have made the playoffs for the first time since 1990 after finishing their regular season 8-2 just one season after having to forfeit their final game to end the season at 1-9.
“It’s a great accomplishment for our program” said Green head coach Ted Newsome, “I’m so excited and proud of our kids because they’re the ones that put the work in and they’re the ones that got it done. I’m really glad that they get this opportunity to see the fruits of their labor and get something that’s tangible like a playoff berth. Everyone knows how long it’s been, 28 years. That’s a whole generation who hasn’t experienced that at Green, and to get that I think that’s so awesome for them.”
With making the playoffs comes all of the celebration for the community of Franklin Furnace, but also comes a playoff game. The Bobcats will be travelling to Canal Winchester this Saturday night to face the Harvest Prep Warriors who are an undefeated 10-0 heading into this weekend’s first round of the playoffs.
Even though this is uncharted territory for the Bobcats since 1990, Newsome believes his team is adjusting quite well to now having to focus their attention on the upcoming postseason battle. “It really wasn’t that big of a deal to make that transition” sad Newsome, “We feel like we have a good routine and a good process. This week you have the extra day of preparation which I’m a fan of, I think that’ll be useful for us. It’s really business as usual. It’s week eleven and we’re jacked about that, but it’s preparation for another game. I told them today that the game is still 48 minutes long and it’s still four quarters and it’s a 100 yard field. It’s just another ball game for us, we just get an opportunity that a lot of schools don’t.”
The Bobcats offensive rushing numbers have been incredibly impressive. As a team, the Bobcats rushed for 3,015 yards while crossing the endzone on the ground 42 times. The leading rusher for Green was junior running back Alec Smith who had 1,024 yards on the ground along with 14 touchdowns. Not fair behind him was Lonnie Smith with 801 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns, and also Mackie Kingery who had 568 yards rushing and 13 rushing touchdowns.
That is one thing that Green and Harvest Prep share in common is their willingness to run the ball. “They like to spread you out and run it” said Newsome when discussing the Warriors offensive approach, “They do a really good job at creating space for their backs. They have a couple talented kids, one guy that likes to go up the middle and one guy that likes to bounce to the outside, kind of like what we have with Lonnie Smith and Alec Smith. They like to formation you and get you in a situation where they can outnumber you and create some mismatches in the run game that way. They’re not a team that likes to throw the ball a lot, but they can if they have to. They really do a great job in making you play the whole width of the field to defend them.”
For Green to have their best shot at a playoff win on Saturday, Newsome believes his team’s best chance is to play smart and avoid costly mistakes. “When we play mistake free football, and don’t have the mental mistakes, we always get off to a good start” said Newsome, “I want us to come out and not do the things that will put us behind because of mental mistakes. Us blowing an alignment, an offsides penalty, something that might hamper our drive or add to theirs. If we can get through those first couple of series and we’re playing without those kind of errors, that’s beneficial and it’s going to tell me our kids are locked in and ready to go compete.”
Kickoff between the Bobcats and the Warriors in Canal Winchester is set for 7:00 p.m. Saturday night as Green hopes to get their first playoff victory in 28 years.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT