After going back and watching the game film, Reed coach Ernie Howren said the Raiders just followed the game plan in order to take care of business.
"Honestly, we just executed the game plan. We feel like we have some guys in the right play and if the kids execute the play with their abilities, there are a lot of great things that can happen. That's what happened on Thursday night," Howren said. "We go back and we watch the film and there's little things that we pick on here and there. When it comes down to it, you really can't say enough good things about what went on Thursday night though.
"We just have to keep working for perfection. If you have an offense as potent as the Spanish Springs' offense is and are able to hold them to 14 points, I think that speaks volumes to the defensive effort. And when you put up 47 points on a really good defense like Spanish Springs, you're pretty close at that point."
While there was plenty of praise to go around to the Raider stoppers on the defensive side of the ball and the playmakers on offense, Howren said the success the Blue and Gold had against the Cougs all started in the trenches.
"Obviously any offense is going to go with the success or lack of success of the offensive line," he said. "I feel like the last three weeks, the success we've had offensively is in direct relation to the execution that has been going on up front. The five guys up front have done an outstanding job of coming off the football, staying with combos and really understanding the game plan. I couldn't be happier with those guys."
Another part of the success that the Raiders have had all season long has been an attribute of the squad's mentality, which was on full display as RHS clinched the HDL.
"I feel like as a team, we're not afraid of anything. We talk about the fact that there are going to be big plays that the other team makes. The teams we are playing are good teams so they're going to make plays. They're going to score. The way to respond is to stay the course. That's the biggest thing we talk about. If you lose momentum, you have to fight and claw to get it back and just stay the course and believe in what we're doing. That's the biggest things the kids have done. They don't lose their cool or panic. They stay focused and keep going after a team."
•While Spanish Springs may have wished for a different outcome against the Raiders, there were some positives that the Cougars were able to take away from the game.
"I like the fact that we came back and held our heads high and played strong," Spanish Springs coach Scott Hare said. "It would have been real easy after that kickoff return to kind of lay down for them, and initially we kind of started to, but we came out of that relatively quickly and I thought we ended the game with pride. I hope we carry that into the playoffs because we'll have to play every moment at the best of our ability."
Along with the resolve of his team, Hare also said that his team will be take away the key experience of playing in a big game as it gets ready for the playoffs.
"It's the hype that goes with these games," he said of learning from the contest. "You don't play any different. You play the same no matter what. Athletes that play the game the right way don't allow the hype to get to them. The field is the same. The four downs are the same.
"Everything is the same, so when you play in these games, you have to look the same. You can't get overly excited when you score or any more down if the other team scores. You look the same and you act the same because it's just another game. That's how good teams play no matter who they are playing. Hopefully we understand that and just play the game."
The knowledge of how to compose themselves in a big game will help the Cougars in the playoffs, as will the adjustments Hare said need to be made after watching film from the Reed game.
"We need to secure our double teams up front. I thought we did an okay job running the football but we got lazy up front in terms of our double teams," he said. "Our assignments were correct, which was good, but we need to roll into our double team a little more than we did in our zone scheme. We came off of that just a tad early. And then obviously we had six drops, and you can't have six drops. I don't think we've had six drops all season and we had six drops in one game.
"The other thing is we had a turnover. Against a good team we lost the turnover battle. They had none and we had one. You can't ever lose a turnover battle in a playoff game or against good teams. It doesn't matter what it ends up being, but you better not lose the turnover battle and our one turnover resulted in points for Reed. We can't do that."
•The Railroaders football team came within one point of earning its first victory of the season in its final contest on its schedule against Wooster, but unfortunately for the Maroon and Gold it fell just short. While Sparks desperately wanted to walk away with a win against the rival Colts, there were plenty of positives the Railroaders could look to following the game.
“We tackled better and defensively we played pretty sound assignment football,” Sparks coach Rob Kittrell said. “There were a few times we had break downs and a few times we were outmatched, but we played a lot better than we had all year. We were able to slow Wooster down and get the ball back offensively.”
Despite failing to notch a mark in the win column this season, the effort the Railroaders gave on the gridiron left Kittrell proud of his squad.
“As a coach, that’s huge to see them play hard,” he said. “We kept seeing improvements week in and week out. Even though the record didn’t show those improvements, the kids kept getting better. From the beginning of the year to the end of the year we were definitely a better team. I’m proud of the kids for hanging in there. They kept fighting and getting better.”
The loss left the Railroaders with a mix of emotions after the game, from pride to heartbreak, feelings Kittrell said returning players will be able to use next season.
“They held their heads up because they played a good game but it was heartbreaking at the same time,” Kittrell said. “The bus was super quiet on the way home. They expected to win that game and that was a good thing to see. It’s good to see that for next year, to see that optimism. They felt what it was like to be in a football game so we’ll have that optimism for next year for all of our games to be like that.”