FREDERICK — The Frederick football team flipped the Class 3A playoff bracket upside down last week.
Fresh off the biggest upset of the postseason, a 7-6 win for the No. 16-seeded Warriors over top-seeded Cañon City, head coach Thad Lear’s group is staying level-headed. They’ve embraced the underdog role, and they’re hardworking attitude hasn’t changed.
“For some people, that’s a motivating factor,” Lear said. “If that’s what works for these kids, I don’t care. We’re just excited to be in the playoffs. Once you’re there, it’s on you to make sure that you make the most of your opportunity.”
The Warriors are excited to be in the playoffs. Excited to get to practice another week. Excited to play at home this Saturday against No. 8 D’Evelyn.
They didn’t feel under-seeded or overlooked last week. In the midst of the most successful season in school history, the Warriors (8-3) have played with some of the top teams in the state, and they know what they’re capable of.
“They’ve been believing in themselves all year long,” Lear said. “When you lose to three good football teams, you learn a lot about yourself. You can hopefully find some things, some of your weaknesses, and you can improve on those things.”
The Warriors’ three regular-season losses all came against playoff teams — No. 3 Silver Creek, No. 5 Windsor and No. 13 Roosevelt. They didn’t lose back-to-back games.
Startingl linebacker K.C. Rivera said the Warriors are fine with being looked at as the underdogs by whomever they may play in the postseason. But, that’s not how they see themselves.
“We were the underdogs and it’s a lot better when you win as the underdog,” said Rivera, who led the Warriors with 14 tackles and scored their only touchdown against the Cañon City. “But also, we’re not really paying that much attention to it. We’re just playing our game.”
After facing a good running team in Cañon City, the Warriors will face a different challenge this week against a D’Evelyn team that doesn’t run very much. The Jaguars offense averages 361.2 passing yards per game and has two quarterbacks with 20 or more touchdowns passes.
“Our linebackers are gonna have to get to their zones and our secondary is gonna have to have really good coverage,” Rivera said. “They’re a good passing team.”
On offense, the Warriors will lean heavily on their run game, led by running back Dalton Hall. Against Cañon City, Hall led the team with 58 yards. He said the Warriors started strong, played physical and dominated the Cañon City offense in the second half.
They’ll need more of that at 1 p.m. this Saturday. And to not get caught up in their first-round win.
“We want to keep going real bad, so we’re just going to keep practicing hard and preparing each week,” Hall said. “We just have to stay focused, we can’t really think about seeding. We were the 16 beating the one, so we can’t go in thinking that they’re a lower seed so they’re not as good as the other team. We’re going to play every team the same and give our best effort.”
Brad Cochi can be reached at email@example.com.