The Longhorns will make their fourth consecutive second-round appearance as they host Mays in a Class AAAAA playoff contest tonight at Cobb Energy/Corky Kell Stadium.
With its sixth straight playoff appearance, Kell
(11-0) has established itself as the model of consistency for high school football in Cobb County.
For Longhorns coach Derek Cook, having a 12-month-a-year approach and a consistent blueprint is the key to the Longhorns’ success.
“It’s a year-round process,” Cook said. “You’ve got to have a plan and you do these things year after year. Of course, you tweak things as you go along and you may come across something that you like better. But you find what’s working and you stick with it. You have to work year-round. You can’t wait until the summer to begin things. As soon as our season ends, we start lifting immediately — there’s no ‘We’re going to take two weeks off.’ We go right back at it.
“We really get back in high gear in January, right after the (Christmas) break, and start doing a lot of things to move us in the direction that we need to be — spring football and summer workouts and those kind of things.”
Kell advanced to tonight’s game with a
31-17 first-round victory over Cobb rival Allatoona last Friday — a game which showed Cook that there was still room for improvement.
“We struggled a little bit in the first half, certainly, but we were able to turn things around in the second half,” Cook said. “Defensively, we played well and forced some turnovers, which was good to get the ball and get a short field. We have to pick up the pace in the punting game. We had two terrible mistakes in the punting game that we’ve got to correct.”
For Cook, the Allatoona game was a good experience for his younger players seeing their first postseason action.
“The thing is, you’ve got as many guys as we’ve had play in the playoffs and there’s still a bunch of them where that was the first one and so you’re at that learning curve,” Cook said. “And though you’re playing on the same type of field that you played on during the regular season and the time on the clock is the same, the stakes are higher and the teams that you usually play are better in the playoffs. There’s a smaller margin of error in these games and it’s good that we had some errors.”
The Longhorns now face Mays (8-3), the second seed from Region 6AAAAA. The Raiders defeated Clarke Central 14-10 in their first-round game last Friday.
This will be only the second trip Mays has made to Cobb County for a football game. Its only other appearance came in 2011, when it beat Pope 52-38 in the opening round of the playoffs.
Game: Mays (8-3) at Kell (11-0), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: First meeting
All-time series: First meeting
Prediction: Kell 24, Mays 14