The good news revolves around a still-alive mathematical chance to make the playoffs. The chain of events that have to transpire for Piedmont to make the dream a reality, though, represents the bad.
First, Piedmont must beat McGuiness. Then, the Wildcats need Southeast, who is winless in district play and has just one victory on the season, to
upset Carl Albert.
The latter appears on paper as exponentially less likely to occur. But for a Piedmont team that enters Friday night as winners of three straight games, controlling their portion of the puzzle is all the Wildcats will be concerned with. The rest, head coach Drew Gossen said, is quite obviously out of their hands.
“Southeast beating Carl Albert is one of the more unlikely things that could possibly happen this season,” he said. “But we’re going to go out and play our game like it’s a possibility.”
Gossen said focusing only on beating the Irish won’t be difficult given the talent McGuinness has on each side of the ball. The Irish haven’t lost since a Sept. 18 defeat at Weatherford. Piedmont will send nine seniors off in the final home game of their careers, which could add extra motivation.
“There’s a lot to be done in this game and a lot to be earned,” Gossen said. “For our seniors it’s a chance to leave a legacy for our underclassmen moving forward. There’s a lot to play for even if the playoffs aren’t a real likely possibility.”
The Wildcats will get a boost with the return of senior running back Delbert Todd, who broke his arm in the first game of the season and hasn’t played since. Starting defensive lineman Kohl Francis will also play after missing four games with an MCL sprain.
Both returns are welcomed as an Irish team that’s already locked up first place in the district behind star running back Zach Segell comes to town.
“They can do it all, but their running game is what they really rely on,” Gossen said. “Defensively, it’s kind of the same thing. They’re sound. It’s a base scheme that’s not too elaborate, but it’s solid. They’re where they are for a reason.”
PHS, meanwhile, has turned to a bruising running game led by running back Landon White to win three straight. White has scored eight touchdowns in the three wins and has topped the 100-yard plateau in three consecutive games as well. Gossen said some of the run-heavy game plans have been dictated by Piedmont’s opponents, but he expects much of that to remain in the plans again this week.
“For the most part we’re going to continue doing what’s been successful for us and try to continue that,” he said.
Piedmont faced a similar scenario in last season’s finale at McGuiness, but then needed only to beat the Irish to claim the fourth and final playoff spot. The odds are longer this year, but Piedmont will take its chances.
“What if the unlikely happens and Southeast knocks off Carl Albert,” Gossen said. “We want to have done our part.”