If you don’t think it’s important to grab second place, just talk to the Frost Polar Bears, who turned a second-place finish into a dramatic run in the state playoffs a year ago.
Guess what’s at stake for those same Bears on Friday night?
You got it.
If Frost beats Meridian in its final regular season game on Friday the Polar Bears can finish no worse than second place in the District 9-1A D II. They would still have an outside chance at winning the district, but it would take a Meridian win over Hubbard next week to force a three-way tie between Hubbard, Frost and Meridian, and that scenario is highly unlikely.
What’s more than likely is the winner of the Frost-Meridian game will be the second seed going into the playoffs.
“Unless something crazy happens we’re (Frost and Meridian) both in, so it’s basically playing for second place this week,’’ Frost Coach Eric Blenden said. “It’s obviously a huge game for both of us. You want to go in (the playoffs) with the best chance you can have. We were No. 2 last year. Before last year we had some playoff experience, but most of that was in basketball. We got the football experience last year.’’
It carried over into this season.
“One of our goals was to get back to the playoffs,’’ Blenden said. “This is only the second time Frost has made the playoffs in back-to-back years so it was an important goal for us. Frost has never won playoff games in back-to-back years and that’s one of our goals this year.’’
That’s why finishing with the highest possible seed is so important.
Blenden said before last week’s game that he wanted to see the look on his kids when they clinched a playoff berth, because it’s the best in the word. The Bears clinched with a 41-0 win over Dawson, and they were happy, but not satisfied.
“There wasn’t any hollering, but they were excited because one of our goals was to get to the playoffs, and we accomplished that goal. Now we want to go in as the No. 2 team.’”
Frost ends its season Friday, and will get a bye week before opening the playoffs. Blenden is looking forward to the extra week’s rest in order to hit the playoffs.
But his kids have to win Friday to take momentum with them into the bye week, and that’s another reason this game is so important to Frost.
Meridian has been on a roll and comes into the game with a 2-0 record in the district with a chance to win it all with victories against Frost and Hubbard.
“They’re a lot like us,’’ Blenden said of Meridian. “They run the same offense, and they have two guys who carry the ball and do a good job, and they have an offensive line that comes off the ball. It should be a quick game as far as the clock goes, because we’re both going to pound the rock.’’
Frost likes to run and the Bears have two bread-and-butter backs to get the job done. Robert Worley (446 yards and a 7.8 yards per carry average) and Woody Woods (423 yards and a 5.2 average). As a team, the Polar Bears have rushed for 2,161 yards this season and thrown for just 253, so if they are going to grab second place and make a run in the playoffs they will literally be making a run in the playoffs.
Meridian was off last week, and Blenden knows that will help the Yellow Jackets.
“They’ve had two weeks to prepare for us,’’ he said.
While Meridian was resting (and watching Frost play Dawson) the Polar Bears were running at will in that one-sided win against the Bulldogs. Worley rushed for 149 yards and scored two TDs, and Woods rushed for 59 yards on just six carries and scored twice, on a 28-yard run and on a 68-yard pass from Zach Terry. — the longest pass of the year.
It’s the final home game for the seniors, the very kids who helped turned the program around a year ago and kept it rolling this season.
“This is our last game and we’re going to do everything we can do to make sure these seniors leave with a win and the No. 2 seed going into the playoffs,’’ Blenden said. “It sure would be nice to go into that bye week with a win.’’
Meridian at Frost
7:30 P.M. Friday
At Joe Parum Field
RECORDS: Meridian is 4-4, 2-0 in Dist. 9-1A Div. II. Frost is 5-4, 2-1 in Dist. 9-1A Div. II.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Meridian: WR Jarett Carpenter, OL Nick Doughty, QB Nick Prestwood, RB/LB Adrian Rapoz. Frost: OL/DL Blake Constantino, LB Laton Eastman, C Joseph Frazier, OL/DL Raymundo Hernandez.
UPDATE: October has been a great month for Meridian ... the Yellow Jackets will try to extend their three-game winning streak after having an open date last week ... Meridian runs a Slot-T offense and a 5-0 defense ... both Meridian and Frost have defeated Wortham and Dawson in district play … Frost beat Dawson 41-0 last week ... Eastman leads the Bears defense with 75 tackles — 14 for losses, six sacks, three fumble recoveries and a safety … LBs Woods and Colton Clayton are very active, too, with 62 tackles each … Woods has four sacks and four fumble recoveries.
— Dan Lunsford