Brantley coach David Lowery has always preached to his players to never look ahead to any upcoming opponent.
But that philosophy gets thrown out the window when it comes to the playoffs, Lowery explains.
The Bulldogs, who open the Class 1A playoffs at home against J.U. Blacksher this Friday, are on a collision course for a state semifinal rematch with defending 1A champion Sweet Water in the second round.
“I don't preach looking ahead, but you have to be prepared,” Lowery said. “You always have to look at the possibilities of the next round so that you are ready whomever you play.”
Should the Bulldogs advance and Sweet Water eliminate Maplesville, Brantley would play host in the second round.
“I know our kids would love to get another shot at them, but our focus hasn't been on Sweet Water all year,” Lowery said.
But all that won't matter if the Bulldogs dont knock off J.U. Blacksher.
J.U. Blacksher is making its first playoff appearance since 1999, meanwhile Brantley has qualified for the playoffs for the ninth straight year.
J.U. Blacksher (5-5) is a power running team that averages more than 200 pounds across the offensive line under first-year head coach Greg Shehan.
Junior tailback Darius Parker leads J.U. Blacksher with 750 yards rushing with six touchdowns. Parker follows the lead of 5-foot-10, 220-freshman fullback Issac Nichols.
“We pride ourselves in being a power football team,” Shehan said.
Obviously the running game is important for Shehan since he said that senior quarterback Ryan Gorum averages 9 to 10 pass attempts a game.
While J.U. Blacksher's bread and butter is the run game, Brantley has a balanced attack led by senior quarterback Edgar Walker. Walker has thrown for more than 1,000 yards.
Complementing the Bulldogs’ aerial assault is the rushing game, which is paced by junior running back Chris Booker. Booker has rushed for more than 1,000 yards.
Shehan said Brantley is similar to Florala, which was J.U. Blacksher's Week 1 opponent.
“They have some hard running, and their backs are bigger than their offensive line,” Shehan said. “They are a hard-running team, but their quarterback also has a good arm and can throw. They are a well-rounded and well-coached team.”
And Shehan has no problem with his team taking on the underdog role.
“They know we are an underdog coming into this game,” Shehan said. “Even though we are in the playoffs for the first time since 1999, we aren't just happy to be in the playoffs. We want to see where we go from here.”