The win gave Reed a regional quarterfinal victory for the ninth straight year, meaning the RHS gridders haven't lost their playoff opener since 2003. A deep playoff run is probably becoming a foregone conclusion for fans of the Blue and Gold. While that may be true, veteran Reed football coach Ernie Howren says the postseason win is always appreciated.
"Winning games never gets old," Howren said. "It is the most fun thing to do. It's that reward for all the hard work each week and all year long that never gets old. Seeing the kids in big games, winning playoff games, that's the reason we work so hard, those kinds of big victories like that."
Momentum is the key to many a victory and Reed (8-3) had it through much of last Friday's contest against the visiting Tigers. Howren and his Reed coaching staff has preached that holding the momentum and the emotional edge that comes with it, is key in any game, but especially in the playoffs.
"Obviously, scoring points makes it easier, but we worry abut momentum more than anything else," he said. "If we get our best physical game and execute the game plan and if that equates to points, which it should, that's great. But the reality is we don't worry about who scores first. It's the momentum that's the key thing early in the game."
And that's indeed what Reed got early in the game. The Raiders drove 91 yards for a touchdown on the game's opening possession. They forced a turnover on the Tigers' first possession and proceeded to turn that into another touchdown, grabbing a 13-0 edge less than four minutes into the gridiron battle.
"Honestly. I'm really proud of our kids," Howren said. "I thought they went out there and executed the game plan to a tee. They put themselves in such great situations on special teams and on defense. We did all the things we wanted to do. And then at the end, to finish with 47 points, you can always be happy with an offensive effort like that."
Despite the accolades for his team after each and every win — Reed has now won six straight — Howren almost always closes postgame comments with words like 'wanting more' and 'we haven't peaked yet.' After Friday's triumph over Douglas, he stressed that his team can and must still get better.
"Every single phase of our game can get keep getting better," Howren said. "Our kids are doing awesome, so many great things . The offensive line up front is doing a great job with combo blocks. Our defense is great, tackling well. And at the same time, each thing could get better. The attitude at practice has been everything you can expect from a team in this position. The kids are flying around with high energy. That's the thing you like to see, keep moving in the right direction."
Reed now prepares for a regional semifinal, Friday night at home, against cross-town rival Spanish Springs, a team it blew away 47-14 at SSHS on Oct. 25.
•Spanish Springs is gearing up for a rematch with Reed because it took down Bishop Manogue with a 26-6 playoff road win last Friday. It was a special night for the Cougars because it marked the first football playoff win in the 12-year history of the school.
The local school had lost all four of its first-round playoff matchups prior to dumping Manogue last weekend. Seventh-year Spanish Springs coach Scott Hare praised his kids and the accomplishment but admitted its hard to soak it in when the team has another opponent just days away. Additionally, he said the atmosphere at Manogue left his players and coaches feeling like they were all alone.
"It's a weird atmosphere at Manogue. It's about as dark as my back yard right now," Hare said in a phone interview late Sunday night. "It's amazing. The stands are not lit up at all. It's just a weird atmosphere in terms of how dark it was. It felt like nobody was there.
"But with that said, our kids had to get over what felt like a weird environment and one that we definitely had not played in ... That first playoff win feels really good. In a couple weeks, hopefully, I'll able to sit down and really think about what we've been able to do, but now we know whose coming next and it's the only team in the region my teams have not gotten over the hump against. And it's the team right down the road, our rival. Plus they've taken it to us. So yes it feels good to win but my brain goes right to who we're playing next, Reed. In a month I'll probably look back and relish what we've done."
While Spanish Springs did have the game in hand against Manogue by the time the final quarter rolled around, the Cougars certainly did not play their best game. Hare said his team left too many points on the field.
"We got some separation a little bit in the second quarter, and then we just kind of stayed put," Hare said. "Manogue never pressed close to us and we never really pulled away. We had a had a goal-line stand against us and we settled for two field goals. Moving forward, and against Reed, we need to make those touchdowns. We got six points but we need to get 21. I'm glad we got the win but if you look who is next, we know we cant settle for six when we're on the doorstep of 21."
Conversely, while the SSHS offense stalled at times, its defense did not, limiting Manogue to just one touchdown on the night. Hare was pleased that just a week after watching his run defense get torched by Reed, it rebounded to shut down Manogue.
"The defense played really well. We held them to 59 yards rushing," Hare said. "Now, Manogue is not the greatest run team. They want to throw it, but they want to run it, too. We only gave up 59 yards on the ground. That was a big plus, considering a week before Reed really hit us with the running game. Even in the passing game against Manogue, all the balls but one that they completed were in front of us. I was really pleased with how we handled ourselves on defense."
Hare knows his team has a gargantuan task ahead of it, facing a Reed team the Cougars have never beaten in his tenure, but still he and his players are excited for the opportunity.
"I think our kids would've been truly disappointed if Douglas had upset Reed and that's a huge turnaround for them," Hare said. "Reed's a great team. I'm not saying we'll win, but the kids are excited to have the chance to represent against Reed. I don't think they felt like they represented the way they could have the first time around."