Once the playoffs come around, everyone is optimistic. Until the games are played, every team has a shot at history.
And while Alabama Christian has high hopes heading into the postseason, this time of year also sheds light on a sore subject. The Eagles lost late-game leads in their second-round loss to Charles Henderson last season, and that feeling has stuck with them ever since.
The road to redemption begins at 4 p.m. Friday when ACA travels to Demopolis for the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
“It’s been a knot in my gut since it happened. My personal opinion, we had both of those games in hand. I think that we just never developed a real killer instinct to go take it last year,” ACA’s Chandler Taylor said, an Alabama signee. “I’m starting to see with this team, with the young and hungry kids that we have, I think they’re starting to see that they have to go take it. We’re young, we’re inexperienced, and if we want something, we have to take it.”
The Eagles replaced six starters from last year’s squad, so the memories shouldn’t linger too long. ACA coach Don Gilliam said it’s been Taylor’s leadership that’s helped the group of newcomers gel together and turn into a playoff contender.
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“One of the things I really like about this team is, as young as we were, and we struggled early, but through the year, we’ve consistently gotten better. They’re able to drop things when bad things happen,” Gilliam said. “This is a game of failure, and how you deal with that failure determines a lot of the outcome. Right now we’ve been playing really good as of late, where early, something negative would happen and we would drop our heads and it would take an inning to get over it. Now we’re playing consistent, and that’s what we’re hoping we can do in the playoffs.”