Sweet Water ready for 2A playoff push

Tate Gibbs makes a first down grab.

November football has become commonplace in Sweet Water, but the arrival of this year’s postseason has a decidedly different feel for the Bulldogs.

“This group has never been in a 2A playoff and I haven’t been there in a while. We’re venturing into unchartered waters as far as the teams we’re playing and the class we’re playing in,” Luker said. “We’re about to get into some teams we’re not real familiar with.”

The first of those unfamiliar Bulldog foes will be the Samson Tigers, who travel to face Sweet Water Friday night in the first round of the Class 2A state bracket.

Samson enters the contest at 6-4 as the No. 4 seed out of Class 2A Region 2. The Tigers losses came to region foes G.W. Long, Providence Christian and Houston Academy in addition to a setback last week and Class 3A Daleville.

“They’re pretty well coached. They’ve got a real good quarterback. We’re going to have to focus on him,” Luker said of the Samson attack. “They run everything through him. They run some option and they’ve got a real good short passing game. They really execute that part of their offense real well.”

Defensively, Samson will look to counter Sweet Water with a 4-4 base look that will challenge the Bulldog ground game.

“They’re always in position. They get themselves in position to make plays,” Luker said of the Tiger defense.

Sweet Water (8-2) heads into the contest after having its seven-game win streak snapped in a road loss to T.R. Miller last week that saw the Bulldogs blow a two-score lead in the fourth quarter.

“The main things we told our kids this week – besides trying to correct some things we did – we just told them it was not acceptable what happened the other night in the fourth quarter. Being at Sweet Water, you just don’t blow two-touchdown leads in the fourth quarter against anybody,” Luker said. “We talk about finishing games and finishing the season all the time, but that was just one where we quit doing the little things that had made us successful throughout that game. I hope it has made us eager to get back on the field and play.”

As the Bulldogs eye a trip to the state championship round in Auburn, the road to another blue map begins with a Samson team that Luker knows his squad can scarcely afford to take lightly.

“Everybody is 0-0 at this time. We just talk about it being November and being the playoffs. They should feel different and there should be a different gait to them at practice,” Luker said. “The main thing now is there is just no tomorrow as far as football is concerned. If you get beat on Friday, that’s it. You’re just trying to make it to the next Monday, no matter what it looks like Friday night.”

The Bulldogs and Tigers are scheduled to kick off Friday night at Nolan Atkins Stadium at 7 p.m.