Captain Shreve and Southwood have prepared for a crucial Thursday football game without knowing exactly where they stood in the playoff picture.
With Parkway’s ineligibility appeal denied Wednesday, the Gators (4-5, 1-3) and Cowboys (3-6, 1-3) received a forfeit win and improved their chances to make the Class 5A playoffs when teams meet at Lee Hedges Stadium.
The math is simple come Thursday – win, and you’re in. Captain Shreve (10.12) is No. 28 in the Class 5A power rankings while Southwood (9.95) is No. 30, leading two teams (Live Oak and South Lafourche) tied for the No. 32 and final spot by just .07 points.
Southwood coach Anthony McClain said he’s been much more focused on Captain Shreve than on any of the power rankings math surrounding Parkway’s forfeits.
“The Shreve game is a big deal, and I hope we play well enough to win. We win, and we know we’ve earned a spot in the playoffs,” McClain said. “The Parkway (forfeit) helps … but what we don’t want is to get a (forfeit win) and then turn around and lose to Shreve.”
A Southwood loss, which would be its seventh straight on the field, could easily knock the Cowboys out of the playoffs.
Shreve has a little more leeway, but not much, to make the playoffs with a loss. But just as important to coach Richard Lary is the momentum a Week 10 win would bring for a team that’s lost six straight on the football field.
The Gators have won nine straight in the series, four by 10 points or less.
“We’ve been searching for a couple of weeks now to play better, and we’re a little more disciplined with more sound technique,” Lary said. “If we want to win this game, we’ll definitely have to be more efficient.
Shreve made the playoffs in 2013, and the Gators could make consecutive appearances for the first time since 2005-07 (three straight trips).
Southwood’s last trip occurred in 2004, and the Cowboys have been to the playoffs only twice since 1995.
“Being in the playoffs leads us to a better start to our offseason, and it’s a sense of pride for the kids because we have a lot returning starters going into next year,” McClain said.
“There’s no doubt we’ve been better than we have in the past, and the kids know they’ve put a better product on the field. They can recognize that even though ultimately it’s about wins and losses. Making the playoffs is step one.”
The Cowboys’ improvement this season was on display in a 34-12 loss to Byrd – a game in which they trailed just 20-12 at the half.
Quarterback Keytron Crowder, one of the best rushers in the area, threw two touchdowns to Brandon Lawson (accounted for 142 of Crowder’s 190 passing yards).
“(Crowder) is probably the most underrated player in our district,” Lary said. “He hurts you by making guys miss … and the running backs and receivers have played well, too.
“(McClain) and I are great friends, and we’re both trying to get the point in District 1-5A where our programs are two of the top ones.”
Shreve’s Donovan Banks has filled in at quarterback the last few weeks along with Cory Anaya, who’s started most of the season after starter Luke Leggio was injured in the opener.
But the Gators rely on defense and special teams, and McClain said those units are certainly strong.
“The defense is pretty stout, and from top to bottom, we respect what Shreve has,” McClain said. “The kicking game is really strong, and (Chad Usry) can punt it 50 yards in the air.
“They can easily win field position, and that’s one thing they’ve used to win some tight games.”