It’s only mid-October, but Greenwood is preparing for what is clearly the most pivotal game of the season.
The Eagles (2-1) travel to take on Region 2-4A leader Greenville (3-0) at 7:30 p.m. today.
“I’m ready to come out and play,” said Greenwood receiver Ahmari Coats. “It’s a championship game.”
While the matchup isn’t quite a championship game — a win could only bring Greenwood into a three-way tie atop Region 2-4A — its result will decide whether it’s still possible for Greenwood to win the region and will all but decide whether the Eagles make the playoffs.
The region-only schedule has thrown several things out of whack this season. It’s strange to have a game of this magnitude at a stage in the year that feels so early, Greenwood coach Chris Liner said.
“It’s unprecedented, just like everything else that’s happened,” Liner said. “Certainly you’ve played games early on where there are two front runners and one of them finishes (first) and the other finishes (second) and it ends up being because of the outcome of their game. But never do I remember it being where somebody that’s pretty good is going to be left out of the playoffs and that was decided now.”
Greenville has region wins against Laurens and Greer and a non-region win against Mauldin.
The Red Raiders are built on speed and have plenty of weapons on offense, primarily running back Khalique Holland and quarterback Andre Goodman, who has offers from Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina and Army. Defensive end Aries Scott has recruiting interest from South Carolina and an offer from Georgia Southern.
On the offensive line, Greenville has junior Collin Sadler, one of the state’s top recruits at the position who has offers from Alabama, Clemson and Arizona State, among others.
The Eagles’ trip to Greenville County last week didn’t go well. Greenwood turned the ball over twice, once on the goal line and once on a blocked punt, and committed costly penalties in a 34-21 loss to Greer.
For Liner, last week’s poor showing might have been a blessing in disguise, given the high stakes the team is about to face at Sirrine Stadium.
“I don’t know that we would have been as prepared for Greenville if it weren’t for what happened at Greer,” Liner said. “Sometimes you have to get kicked in the teeth and kind of get a reality check and it’s not from a lack of hustle or preparation or any of that. Sometimes when you’re young, you don’t realize how much those little things matter when two really good teams play. I think they found that out the hard way (last Friday).”