When Catholic coach Greg Seibert took a look at his entire schedule, one game came with it a cause for concern.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t any of the powerhouses littering the Crusaders’ schedule. Instead, it’s tonight’s game against the Bay Tornadoes in the District 1-5A opener for both teams.
Not only are the Crusaders facing Bay after a rough three-game stretch to open the season, they’re also doing it on a short week.
“My concern, if I have a concern, is we’re into the beginning of the grind,” Seibert said. “It’s not going to get easier over the course of the next few weeks. Like I told the kids (Tuesday), this is the first of a series of significant hurdles we need to cross if we want to achieve our ultimate goal.
“It’s been several years since we’ve had a district game this early. Our dates have been 6 and 8 or 8 and 10. You’re talking about two weeks sooner than we’re accustomed to playing. There is a mental preparation that goes into a district game that may not be there in just a regular season matchup, no matter how intense a rivalry may be. There’s just a categorical mental difference to approaching the game, knowing it has playoff implications.”
Tonight is the first of six district games for the Crusaders, another big change from the 3-team district of the last few years. Of course, many fans are pointing toward a Week 10 showdown with Class 5A No. 2 West Florida, but right now the Crusaders’ focus is on Bay and Bay only.
“They’re pretty athletic,” Seibert said. “They have great size, both offensively and defensively. They seem to me to have an old-school mentality.
“They will run the football, try to speed the game up by running the football. They don’t strike me as a team that will take a lot of deep shots.”
As far as the short week is concerned, Seibert said a little adjustment in the schedule took care of any lingering concerns.
“The only change that it really presents us with is we had to do a combination of Monday/Tuesday practice (on Monday),” Seibert said. “Monday is typically a mental day, installing a lot of stuff and conditioning. Tuesday being a more fully-padded work day, so we combined the two.
“Again, we are at a point preparation-wise where there’s no reinventing the wheel. We will do what we do, and it’s a matter of being very good at what you’re most comfortable doing.”