COVINGTON - Since the first week of the season, Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffmann has stressed that the most important game is the next one on the schedule.
That has been amplified for both Alcovy (5-4 overall, 4-3 in Region 4-AAAA) and Griffin (6-3 overall, 5-2 in Region 4-AAAA) as they head into the final game of the regular season tonight at Homer Sharp Stadium.
A win by Alcovy all but assures the Tigers of a playoff game in their third season, while a win by Griffin puts the Bears in the Class AAAA playoffs and gives them a home game in the first round.
However, a loss by either squad could mean the end of a season, depending on the outcomes of the other games in 4-AAAA on Friday night.
"We're in a situation that every team wants to be in when the season starts," Hoffmann said. "You want a chance to play for that extra game. Well, here's our chance.
"They've not missed the playoffs in eight years. They're going to come in ready to play. I've been in that community for six years, coached down there and they're going to come ready to play, and the bottom line is we've got to be ready to play also."
The key to winning tonight's game is which team protects the football best.
"In the games they haven't played well in, they haven't taken care of the ball," Hoffmann said. "In the games we didn't play well in, we didn't take care of the ball. Taking care of the ball is going to be huge; there's no doubt about that."
Another important factor for Alcovy's defense will be keeping Griffin's speed in check. According to Hoffmann, Griffin has the most speed of any team the Tigers have faced all year.
"They throw the ball well enough that if you pack in the box for the run, they can play you over the top," Hoffmann said. "Defensively, we've got to sit back and make sure we're sound across the board."
Offensively, Alcovy's success will depend on its offensive line controlling the trenches as well as the play of Malachi Outlaw and Rod Tolen.
"We feel that teams have a hard time slowing down both of them. We're going to try to spread the field and get our kids into open space and see what happens," Hoffmann said. "We're standing on new territory here. There's not a kid in my program that's been in this situation like this. That's part of building a program. You have to take steps, and right now we're at the point where we're playing in big ball games. The first two years, we weren't in them."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: Griffin at Alcovy
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Homer Sharp Stadium
Series: First meeting