Bears Enter the Playoffs with a Record of 8-1

John Michael Carter, Staff Writer

On Saturday, the Bears will play the South Paulding Spartans in the first round of the playoffs, heading into the game with eight wins and one loss and claiming the title of region runner-up. 

This will be the team’s third playoff trip and its first time hosting a first-round playoff game.  

“We had big shoes to fill from last year, being the first year going to the playoffs and winning a playoff game,” said senior linebacker Bennett Long. 

He said he believes the team has fulfilled this role well. 

To prepare for Saturday, head football coach Craig Bennett said the team has remained on the same practice schedule, as he said he and the coaches are trying to keep the players on the same routine. 

“A lot of people think that more is better, and sometimes it’s not,” he added. 

Bennett said he and the coaches emphasize the mental aspect of the game year long. 

“Every week, it’s the one-week mentality. Don’t look ahead, don’t worry about yesterday, don’t worry about tomorrow. Let’s focus on today,” he said, adding that the juniors and seniors on the team “don’t really worry about the scoreboard,” but rather concentrate on “getting better every day.” 

The idea of mentality extends to the playoffs even more so. 

“We’re all getting our minds right for this game,” Long said. “I feel like I’ve been doing pretty good, but I couldn’t really do it without my teammates,” he said. 

Senior quarterback Zach Harris said he believes the team is ready. The team has been viewing film of the Spartans to see “what they do and their tendencies and what coverages they like to run,” he said. South Paulding also holds the same record entering the playoff, 8-1. 

“It’s just a matter of if we play well, we’ll be okay. If we make some early mistakes, we could be in a fight,” Bennett said, adding that the Bears have never played the “well-coached” South Paulding team. 

Harris said he anticipates the toughest aspect of Saturday’s game will be the physicality. 

“I think it’s just gonna be a physical game. We’re gonna have to fight through it,” he said. 

However, “If we can stop them on defense when we’re on defense and we can stop their offense, I think that’ll be our biggest strength,” Harris said. 

As his possible final time on the field, Harris is determined to put forth 100% effort. 

“If this is my last game, then so be it, but I’m gonna go out there and try and play like it’s not my last game,” he said.