Osborne has won one game, while Sprayberry has captured two.
Tonight is the final subregion contest for each squad, and while the Cardinals would likely be denied a Region 7AAAAA (B) play-in berth even with a victory, a loss for the Yellow Jackets (2-6, 1-6) would likely mean the difference between playing Region 7AAAAA (A) leader Creekview or likely runner-up Sequoyah.
Osborne (1-7, 0-3) would love to create as much havoc on Sprayberry’s possible postseason bid.
“If we were playing better, I’d feel great (about getting a victory),” Osborne coach Xarvia Smith said. “But we’re not playing well right now. We’re struggling to score.”
Finding the end zone has been a problem for Osborne all season long. The Cardinals have been shut out three times and have scored 10 or more points only once — a 20-0 victory over a first-year Cambridge program.
“Last year, these kids were in the same kind of situation needing a win over Sprayberry to have a good shot at a region playoff berth. I spoke to the kids in practice this week about that moment. I felt like I put too much pressure on them and we came out and laid an egg.
“This time I’m stressing a fun and loose practice. We haven’t talked about any stakes for the game. We just want to go about our business and play hard. We’ve been working on blocking and tackling and being secure with our fundamentals.”
Despite Osborne’s record, Sprayberry isn’t planning on overlooking the Cardinals. Yellow Jackets coach Billy Shackelford remembers how Osborne nearly upset Pope last season, and fought Kell to a five-point loss.
“I don’t want to get the cart in front of the horse,” he said. “We have a job to do against Osborne, and that’s our No. 1 priority, instead of thinking about the region play-in game.
“Osborne’s a dangerous team, and they came down to the wire with some really good teams last year, and that’s what they can do again. This game has the classic recipes for an upset, so we can’t take anyone lightly. Our No. 1 goal is to go 1-0 this week.”
With a victory, Sprayberry would likely leap-frog Riverwood in the region standings and lock down third place.
“The higher we can finish in the subregion, the better off we are,” said Shackelford, who is hoping to see a more consistent effort from his team.
“We’ve had a couple games with a lot of turnovers and our offense has been inconsistent. We just haven’t put together enough good drives. Our focus is on taking care of the fundamentals.”
One aspect that should help reduce turnovers is the return of a healthy Shane Young for Spraybery. The young quarterback injured his arm and his leg last week. However, he expects to be back playing again tonight.
“Shane and I have talked about how he can help this team win,” Shackelford said. “We’re excited about where we are. We’re settling in and taking care of the little things.”