POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – It will be deja-vu for Struthers and Poland in the high school football playoffs Friday night. The final computer rankings set up a unique rematch between the two teams for the second straight week.
I don’t believe it’s weird,” Struthers Senior Tyrese Hawkins said. “It’s a game that I look forward to. So, I’m very much gonna enjoy this.”
“It’s just kinda the way that it happens with the computer points, and the way that it works out. But, it’s interesting, that’s for sure,” Poland Head Coach Ryan Williams added.
After falling 14-12 in the regular season finale, Struthers has turned the page.
“Nobody’s gonna care what happened last week,” Wildcats’ Head Coach Curt Kuntz said. “Saturday night at 9:30, it’s gonna be a happy team and a sad team, no matter what happened last week.”
Poland is hoping to carry the momentum from last week’s win into the playoff opener.
“It’s something that we’re not used to facing the same team in back-to-back weeks, obviously. But, week eleven, it’s win or go home now,” admitted Poland Senior Zach Ellis.
Struthers is making its’ third trip to the playoffs in the last four years. Meanwhile, Poland has been to week eleven in eleven of the past 13 seasons. The Bulldogs held on for a 2-point victory in week ten. But BOTH sides are aware of what adjustments are needed, with much more than bragging rights at stake.
“That’s where that move and counter move. And, what are they gonna adjust to, and how are we gonna adjust to that. This week’s kinda a chess game as far as that goes,” Williams explained.
“We couldn’t be more excited to have another chance just to go five minutes down the road and play a team with a great local atmosphere. And we really couldn’t ask for anything more,” admitted Kuntz.
Depite the win, Poland is taking nothing for granted in the second straight meeting.
“It gives us a little bit of confidence. But, we won by two points. So, there’s a lot of things that we need to work on if we want to have the same outcome,” said Ellis.
“This is all we’ve talked about. Everything leads up to this moment. And, we can’t wait to go out and play,” Hawkins explained.
Saturday night’s kickoff between Struthers and Poland is set for 7 p.m.