Heading out to practice each day and getting ready for a game this time of the year is nothing new for the football programs at Stratford and Tattnall Square.
But there certainly is a different feeling around this week’s playoff preparations for the Eagles and Trojans.
Stratford and Tattnall will make their GHSA playoff debuts Friday night. The Eagles travel to Mount Paran Christian, while the Trojans host Pinecrest.
“For the most part, it feels the same, because Tattnall is used to being in the playoffs,” Tattnall head coach Clint Morgan said. “But there is a different atmosphere about it with it being our first Georgia High School (Association) playoffs. The entire school and community have come together to support us, and that’s great to see.”
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There are plenty of reasons for the two schools to support their teams. Both have been strong throughout their first seasons in the GHSA and will join FPD (at Prince Avenue Christian) in the Class A private-school playoffs.
Stratford is 6-4, including a pair of one-point losses to Aquinas and Lincoln County.
“It’s always good to be playing now,” Stratford head coach Mark Farriba said. “I think we’re playing really well. I certainly would have loved for us to win the game at Lincoln County, but we really competed hard and played well in that game against a good team in a difficult atmosphere.
“We’ve been playing really well down the stretch, and that’s good to see.”
Mount Paran is 10-0 and hasn’t scored fewer than 31 points in a game this season. The Eagles reached the quarterfinals last year before losing to eventual champion Aquinas.
“We’re going to have to be the aggressor; we can’t try to feel our way through the game,” Farriba said. “We have to just be aggressive and be ready to go after them. They’ve got a good team, and it’s going to be a tough game. I know it sounds like old coaches cliches, but we really do just have to execute our stuff and do what we do and do it well.”
Morgan’s team won its first nine games before losing to Aquinas in the Region 7-A championship game. Pinecrest joined the GHSA in 2010 and is making its first trip to the playoffs. The Paladins are 7-3.
Last week, all the Class A teams had a week off before opening their postseason.
“After a loss, I think it was a great thing for us to have the off week,” Morgan said. “It gave us a chance to get back to basics and see how much we have to work on. If we had won, I’d probably be saying I wish we could have kept playing, but I think the time off definitely helped us.”