The task could be difficult during a week like this, but Mark Farriba and Clint Morgan both insist its really not: Focus on the game, dont worry about anything outside of that.
Farribas Stratford Eagles and Morgans Tattnall Square Trojans both have had strong seasons in their first year at the helm -- or back at the helm in Farribas case. Both teams have started their GISA Region 2-AAA schedules with two wins, and both appear headed to the playoffs.
Up next for the Eagles and Trojans is their showdown at Tattnall. Its a huge game in the region race, with the winner coming out of Fridays game with a 3-0 region record, and in the Class AAA race overall as the two teams appear to be among the best in the state.
Oh, and there is that little factor of the Eagles-Trojans rivalry that can be a distraction for the players, with friends, family and fans reminding them about it all week.
We know who were playing, but we try to depersonalize everyone, Farriba said. You have to do it that way. You cant ignore all that stuff, and the kids arent stupid. They know whats going on and what this game means, and they know who were playing. But for us, we have to focus on it as just being game eight.
Were not going to treat it any different than games one, six or seven or even game nine. Thats the mindset you have to have, and if you do that, you can be successful.
Both teams have been successful through the first half of the season and carry winning streaks into Fridays game.
The Trojans have won four straight and are 6-1 overall. They edged Westminster 28-24 in their first region game, and then beat Trinity Christian-Sharpsburg 28-0 last week.
Stratford suffered tough losses to Deerfield-Windsor and Westfield by a combined nine points, but it has won three straight since. The Eagles blew out Trinity and Heritage by a combined score of 57-12 in their two region games.
No. 1, this is a big game because its the next game. No. 2, its a big game because of the rivalry, Morgan said of his first experience with the rivalry. And were playing for playoff position. But we cant worry about those things outside of the game. We just have worry about all the things in the game and playing a really good Stratford team.
The Eagles and Trojans are tied for first place with Mount de Sales entering Fridays action. All three appear to be in good shape for playoff spots with the other three teams all tied at 0-2.
After hosting Trinity on Friday, Mount de Sales plays at Tattnall and then hosts Stratford to end the season.
Stratford, Tattnall and Mount de Sales, were all tied right now and unbeaten in the region, so there are some big games coming up, Farriba said. But we have to approach every game the same. Consistency is what we want no matter who were playing. Thats what were all working toward.
But when youre dealing with 14-, 15-, 16- and 17-year-old guys, thats not always going to happen, and we know that. But that is the goal.