One lesser discussed aspect of making it to the post season is the extra weeks of work football teams get that those who don’t make the playoffs miss out on.
As soon as a team’s season ends – no matter when it ends – TSSAA mandates they take a three-week dead period with no mandated workouts or any other work as a team.
Then they’re limited in what they can do in the offseason until they start spring practice.
But for the team that makes it to five weeks of the postseason, one week or somewhere in between, that’s a little more work that team gets to do.
And because of their first-round bye in the Division II-A state playoffs, Trinity Christian is guaranteed two weeks.
“Our guys know if our season is still going, we’re going to find somewhere to practice on Monday,” said TCA head coach Darren Bowling after the Lions beat Jackson Christian 27-17 to win the Division II-A West championship and gain that first-round bye. “I’m not the biggest fan of bye weeks because of the risk we take getting the team out of its routine, but being able to take a week to heal up isn’t a bad thing either.”
There are no byes in Division I ball (except for the occasional bye because a four-team region had a team get banned from the playoffs or some other similar situation). There are no byes in Division II-AA either, although all Division II playoffs will take the week of Thanksgiving off because they have one fewer round of the postseason while Division I plays its semifinal round.
University School of Jackson, North Side and Jackson Christian are playing this week primarily for the right to continue to compete for a state championship.
But an added effect is that next week of practice if they were to win.
That would be three or four more days of practice reps for the younger players, a chance to work with younger players who are expected to contribute next year and a chance to see who can grasp different concepts better than others as preparations for new teams begin.
For Jackson Christian, it’s also a chance to see what the Eagles are made of coming back from their first loss of the season after being so close to making school history with the first unbeaten regular season in school history and first region championship since 2005.
Instead, they’re preparing for a game when they would’ve had the bye TCA has this week had they won last week.
“I’m eager to see how this team bounces back from this,” said Eagles head coach Darby Palmer. “We’ve been good all year about playing in the moment and not letting what’s happened earlier in the season or earlier the week before – good or bad – affect what’s happening now.
This will be a chance to see if we really can do that.”
Brandon Shields, firstname.lastname@example.org