Head coach Keith Hatcher and the Mount de Sales Cavaliers pretty much knew that last week’s game against Hancock Central held all of the cards for the rest of the season.
If Mount de Sales won, they were going to make the GHSA A-Private school state playoffs for the first time since the school rejoined the GHSA four years ago. But if they lost, it was going to be another season of frustration.
The Cavaliers actually trailed 18-17 at the half, but this time they were not going to be denied as they coasted to a 39-24 win.
Mount de Sales (6-4) will be on the road to face Darlington (6-4) on Friday night in the first round of the GHSA A-Private school state playoffs.
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“I would say that we are very excited to meet one of our team goals, which was to make the playoffs,” said Hatcher, whose team was coming off a 2-8 record a year ago. “We finally had a chance to celebrate in the locker room after the game and it was great to see the seniors be able to feel the thrill of going to the playoffs. This group of seniors has taken this program to a different level and has changed the culture of this program and I am glad they are getting a chance to see that their hard work has paid off.”
Mount de Sales started the season winning two of its first three games, with the loss coming to a very good Howard team. The fourth game of the season against perennial power Aquinas yielded the win that may have changed the season.
“There is no doubt that the win over Aquinas was the biggest win for our program since we have been back in the GHSA,” Hatcher said. “That game gave these guys the confidence that we could compete at this level and it really changed the way we were thinking. Before that game we were hoping that all the hard work was paying off but after that game, we knew it was paying off.”
Mount de Sales faces a difficult task in the first round in Darlington, a team that features running back Tijai Whatley, who has already signed with Georgia Tech, and sophomore quarterback Griffin Brewster, who has thrown for more than 1,100 yards this season. Mount de Sales will counter with running backs Josiah Cotton and Adrian Hardwick, who have combined for 1,700 yards rushing, and quarterback Dexter Williams, who has thrown for 770 yards and rushed for another 313.
Hatcher realizes that defeating Darlington will be a tough task. “Darlington is a team that has had a lot of success at this level and they are extremely talented, but we just have to keep our focus and be very physical on the defensive side of the football,”Hatcher said. “The way they play fits how we want to play and I know that we will go on the road and be competitive. We are excited about this opportunity, and we all believe that anything can happen at playoff time.”