The Greenbrier High School football team didn't know its fate last week, but the Wolfpack wasn't taking any chances.
Although the team had finished its regular season and was not assured a spot in the playoffs, the Pack stuck to their normal workout schedule.
Thomson beat Baldwin in a Region 3-AAAA game last Friday night at the Brickyard, and that 10-7 win by the Bulldogs boosted Greenbrier into the Class AAAA state playoffs.
It's a good thing the Pack kept practicing, because they'll have to be perfect when they play Shaw High School this Friday night in Columbus.
Shaw is no ordinary playoff opponent. The Raiders rolled to a 10-0 record and are ranked No. 2 in Class AAAA. Greenbrier is the No. 4 seed from Region 3-AAAA, and enters first-round action with a 7-3 record.
Greenbrier's Brooks Robinson prepares to hand off the ball during a practice drill Thursday.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
But the odds don't bother the Pack's players. They're just glad that Greenbrier is back in the playoffs for the first time since 1998.
"There's a lot of talk that we won't win, but anything can happen in the playoffs," Greenbrier junior Eugene Rogers said.
On paper the matchup looks lopsided, but Greenbrier coach Mickey Derrick thinks his team has been steeled for the imminent challenge from competing in a rugged region during the regular season.
"We're going into the ball game thinking we're going to win. That's what football is all about," Derrick said.
Derrick is making his first visit to the state playoffs as Greenbrier's head coach, but he was an assistant under coach Terry Holder when the Pack made the playoffs for three straight seasons.
Greenbrier advanced to state during the team's first three years of existence, but never tasted victory - the Pack dropped successive state playoff games to Peach County (1996), Worth County (1997) and Dougherty (1998).
Of course, the current Greenbrier players weren't around for those defeats. Win or lose this week, they're glad to break the playoff drought.
"I haven't been to the playoffs in my four years here, so this will be a new experience," quarterback Brooks Robinson said. "I'm looking forward to it. The team's real excited, and we're happy to be in this position. We've worked hard all year, so this is kind of rewarding. It makes you feel good about yourself because you got the job done during the season."
One job is over, but now the hard work begins - and there is one intangible in Greenbrier's favor this Friday night.
"There's no reason to be scared," Rogers said. "What do we have to lose?"
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