Harker Heights no longer controls its fate, needing help from Temple to reach the postseason for the second consecutive year.
The Knights aren’t focusing on playoff scenarios or even the team that will line up across from them tonight in Copperas Cove.
With its season on the line, Heights is focusing on itself.
“We’re going to take care of ourselves,” Heights coach Jerry Edwards said. “We’re going to play Knight football.”
After dropping three straight games to fall to 2-4 in district play, Heights is excited to still have an opportunity to play in the postseason.
It is an opportunity the Knights don’t want to waste.
“For there to just even be a chance for us to be making the playoffs right now in the predicament that we’re in, it’s just a very uplifting thing,” junior quarterback Troy Smith said. “So, we’ve got to go in there and finish and show up and do our jobs.”
What else has encouraged the Knights is they have been able to hang tough in each of their last three losses, which came to the top three teams in District 8-5A in Waco Midway, Temple and Shoemaker.
While containing each of those teams offensively was quite the task -- Heights allowed 40-plus points in each of the losses -- the Knights also feel that the gauntlet of potent offenses has prepared them well for one that is just as elite in Cove.
“We’ve seen the three most explosive offenses in the district, so we’ve faced it,” Edwards said. “We’ve been good on defense at times, and we’ve had a short field that we’ve had to work against at times, so I think it’s prepared us well for this game.”
Edwards said containing Cove senior receiver Phillip Baptiste -- who passed Charles Tillman earlier this season for the best receiving season in school history -- will be important, but he and Smith agree that the key for the Knights won’t be found in X’s and O’s.
“Everybody has to finish,” Smith said. “We have to come together as a team mentally and physically and make everything happen.”
The team has already taken that mantra to heart after a speech by Edwards leading up to the Midway game telling the underclassmen to play for the seniors.
“Mostly what I like about the seniors here, even though the coaches made a main point of (focusing on) the seniors, the seniors came together as a team, and they said we’ve got to do this as a team and come together and play as a team,” Smith said.
With a playoff berth hanging in the balance, Edwards said his team is ready to leave everything on the Hood Stadium field today, the same field the Knights opened the season on in August.
“We’re going to honor the men and women of the armed forces, and we’re going to go out there and we’re going to play our hearts out,” Edwards said.
And after all the ups and downs of a roller coaster season, which included Edwards’ hire on the eve of the season and an 0-4 start, the Knights are happy to have a shot at the postseason and eager to come out with a win.
“I told our kids we’ve played the three best teams, we were able to hang with them,” Edwards said, “one more win and we can go (to the playoffs).”
Contact Jordan Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7562