Over the course of the season, Guyer coach Rodney Webb has praised his team for their composure.
Even in the bleakest of situations, the Wildcats never seem to get rattled. The same was the case last week against Arlington in the area round, when Guyer survived a double-overtime thriller to keep its season alive.
Now, the Wildcats (9-2) will be asked to put that emotional victory behind them as they prepare for Abilene (6-4) in the Class 6A Division II Region I quarterfinal on Saturday.
But as Webb has noted from the outset, this Guyer team — which made an appearance in the 2019 6A Division II title game — is battle-tested.
And especially this time of year, the Wildcats know what is required to win games.
“I think a team like ours that has been used to making deep playoff runs and playing multiple weeks in the playoffs, I just think it’s sort of understood,” Webb said. “We’ll give them constant reminders this week. The nature of playoff football is you show up and have one bad day, and you’re done. There are no do-overs. Our kids will understand the importance of showing up with an edge on Saturday.”
Abilene enters this third-round matchup fresh off a 12-7 win over North Crowley in the area round.
The Eagles trailed 7-0 for most of the game before scoring 12 unanswered points in the second half to seal the victory. Abilene has won six straight games dating back to Nov. 13, with its last loss coming on Oct. 30 against Midland Lee.
“It’s a different brand of football in West Texas, and that’s not to say better or worse,” Webb said. “I think you have to have a ton of respect for the way they play the game. They’re certainly not a team to be taken lightly.
“I think they’re a fundamentally-sound, gritty team. They have a rich tradition, and they have a state championship in recent memory under their belt. Their kids are going to show up flying high on Saturday fully expecting to win the game.”
But Guyer will not be lacking confidence either, especially after the Wildcats had three players eclipse 100 yards rushing against Arlington.
BJ Phillips led the way with 131 yards and three touchdowns. Ty Alridge added 124 yards, and Eli Stowers ran for 103 yards. Stowers also scored the game-winning touchdown in the second overtime.
Guyer ran 89 offensive plays against Arlington, and of those, 77 were rushing attempts.
Webb said while running that many times wasn’t necessarily the game plan, the Wildcats’ ground game is without question their calling card.
“It’s the strength of our offense right now,” Webb said. “I was disappointed Saturday that we weren’t more balanced than we were, but we were at a point in that game where every possession was super critical.
“It was an oddity. There may be people that think we’re trending that direction, and we’re not. Every game presents a unique set of circumstance. It’s not like I was going into the game thinking we needed to run the ball 77 times. It’s just sort of how it turned out.”
Guyer should get linebacker and Florida State signee Jordan Eubanks back for the game against Abilene on Saturday. Eubanks has missed the last six games since exiting on Oct. 30 against Prosper.
Webb said on Monday that Eubanks had been cleared and was probable to play.
The winner of Saturday’s game advances to the region final and will play the winner of Prosper and Haslet Eaton.
But first, like Guyer has done all season to this point, the Wildcats must take care of the task at hand. And Webb is confident they will do just that.
“It’s going to be about us being sharp offensively,” Webb said. “And I think if we’re sharp offensively and keep them from controlling the clock, then I think we’ll be OK.”