Mineral Wells Index
By CLINT FOSTER
It’s Gordon’s time of year.
Throw out the record books. Forget this squad’s youth and inexperience, including eight seniors – only two of which ever played in a single varsity game prior to this season. Don’t worry that their leader, Joe Kostiha, is in his first year as head coach.
The Gordon Longhorns know how to win in the playoffs. They’ve got the pedigree to prove it: two state championships, four semifinal appearances, 11 regional championships.
Today, Gordon (7-4) continues its quest to survive and advance against the Savoy Cardinals (7-3) at 7:30 p.m. in Springtown for the second round of the Class Six-Man Region 3 Division I playoffs – a game the Longhorns have appeared in 16 times in their history.
In the first round of the playoffs last week, the ‘Horns came in as considerable underdogs against the Lometa Hornets (7-4) – who were ranked 28 spots ahead of Gordon by sixmanfootball.com. But rather than buckle under the pressure, the ‘Horns jumped out to a 20-0 lead and simply wore out the big and physical Hornets, en route to a 44-28 victory.
“We love playing the underdog role,” Kostiha said. “We’re just fine with people not expecting us to do well. We believed we could win last week and we believe in ourselves. That’s all that really matters right now.
“We’ve got coaches believing in kids, kids believing in coaches and kids believing in kids. We’ll see how long we can keep it going. We’ve still got
a long way to go to reach the goals we set out in the preseason.”
Kostiha was complimentary of his team, particularly freshman quarterback Seth Allen, whom Kostiha said “did a super job throwing the football to build that lead early.” Allen connected on 6-of-8 passes for 124 yards and three touchdowns.
But Kostiha said the player that most impressed him was senior Jacob Wigington, who grinded out 16 carries for 151 yards and two touchdowns as well as a third touchdown on a 22-yard reception.
“The team we played was very physical, very big,” Kostiha said. “We went toe-to-toe with them in physicality and wore them down in the end. Our guys up front that blocked – Twister Brown, Brandon Gonzales, Seth Wheeler and Sam Hernandez – those guys all had great games last week.”
In addition to advancing to the next round of the playoffs, the win gave Gordon a boost to No. 34 in sixmanfootball.com’s rankings. They will return to their usual role as the favorites when they face 76th-ranked Savoy – fresh off of a 38-36 win against Walnut Springs.
Like Gordon’s first-round opponent, Kostiha said Savoy is a big, physical team, even bigger than Lometa. He added they are a very well-coached team whose season has been strikingly similar to that of the ‘Horns.
“They’re a team that’s real dangerous right now because they’re a little bit like us: they lost a little bit early and have been coming back in a big way,” he said. “We have some things that we think are going to give them some problems. We just need to execute them (today).”
After pulling an upset in the first round, Kostiha said the ‘Horns focus is taking care of business today and continuing to take the playoffs week by week, surviving and advancing until they have reached their goal. Above all else, he said they are happy to be in this position.
“We’re excited, “ he said. “This time of the year, any time you can be playing is a real joy because less than 30 percent of teams are still playing now.
“For us to be one of those teams is special and that’s what I try to tell these kids.
“We’re not happy with just going to the second round, that’s not our goal. We want to make a real run and go deep into the playoffs. We know this is just one step.”