Florence started the 2018 season with one goal: Win a playoff game.
After making consecutive postseason appearances for the first time in 60 years, the Buffaloes are set on making a deep run.
But that would require a third straight trip to the playoffs — something that has not happened since 1956 through 1958 — and thanks to the recent realignment, Florence will not encounter El Maton Tidehaven in the first round.
The Tigers eliminated the Buffaloes from the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons.
The Buffaloes began the season with a road win before experiencing a four-game losing streak, including a contest against Academy the same week tragedy hit the community with the death of a middle school football player.
“Men will die for a cause,” Florence head coach Zane Bode told his players. “This country was founded on a cause, and we came across teams that had causes.
“They were good teams to begin with, and they went out and fought better than they’ve ever fought.”
Florence rallied back to break their losing streak last week with 58-14 home victory against Chilton.
“We were in desperate need for a win,” Bode said.
The Buffaloes captured the momentum during the first offensive drive after a play intended to gain short yardage yielded a long run, according to senior Ramiro Gomez.
“The moment we realized a play that’s not our favorite did really good,” he said, “it changed all of our mindsets.
“We knew we had it in us, and we knew we could win.”
The victory came at the right time for the Buffaloes, who improved to 2-4 overall as they hit the road to open District 8-3A, Division II competition tonight at 7 p.m. against No. 9 Lexington (4-1).
“We have a lot of underclassman,” Florence senior Brandon Vazquez said, “but they’re on varsity for a reason, and we know that they can handle it.
“The plays they make in previous games definitely changes how we’re going to go into the next game, because we’ve seen what they can do and what they’re made of.”
Bode believes the victory reignite the team’s fight, and Gomez agrees.
“The big win really sets off the underclassman,” he said, “and they really believe in the upperclassmen and that we can do what we’re aiming to do.
“We can play anyone when we give it our all.”
Although Florence comes into tonight’s game as a heavy underdog, the Buffaloes found a cause to fight for.
“Our kids have never given up,” Bode said, “and we know it’s going to be mountain to climb, but I told our kids, ‘Let’s go out there and do something they say can’t be done’”
Now, Florence has every intention of proving doubters wrong.
“They can definitely be beat,” Vazquez said of facing Lexington. “They’ve been beaten before, they can be beaten again. We just have to come out with the mindset that we’re ready to go and hit hard.
“We’re going to go see how good they really are, and we’re going to see what we’re really made of.”