Fayetteville High School’s football team will travel south to face No. 5-ranked Luverne in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs tonight at 7.
The Wolves (6-4) and Tigers (10-0) have never met.
A victory for Fayetteville would set up a home matchup Nov. 15 against Cottage Hill Christian or a road trip to G.W. Long, while Luverne would either host Cottage Hill Christian or travel to G.W. Long if the Tigers come away with a win.
Here are four things to know about this playoff battle:
A battle-tested bunch
Coach John Limbaugh said Fayetteville played a quality schedule in Region 4 that has his squad ready for the Tigers.
“We play in what I call the SEC West and we played some really tough teams,” he said. “I think it’s helped prepare us and prepare our kids for teams like Luverne.”
The Wolves also battled B.B. Comer in a 37-21 loss in Week 10. Comer plays in 3A, Region 6, which boasts three Top 10 teams in that classification — No. 3 Randolph County, No. 5 Piedmont and No. 6 Walter Wellborn.
“We really needed that good, tough game,” Limbaugh said. “Hat’s off to Comer. They played a tough game, and Coach (Adam) Fossett has them ready to go. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do in the playoffs as well, but we’re thankful to be able to play a team that’s tough like that and help get us ready for those teams like Luverne.”
Luverne averages 42.1 points per game offensively and allows 14.6.
“There’s no doubt Luverne has a good team, and it’ll be all that we can do to stay on the field with them,” Limbaugh said. “Our kids are ready for the challenge, and they’re excited about it. We’re going to get on that bus tomorrow at about 11:30 a.m. and head down south.”
Getting the offense going
Limbaugh said his team will lean on Seth Limbaugh, Brady Ritchey and Luke White in the ground game to help pick up the tough yards and create opportunities for both Blake Machen and Pacey DeLoach, who will each get snaps at quarterback and wide receiver.
“We can use Pacey or Blake at quarterback,” the coach said. “Both give you a lot of things they can do. We love to get Blake out at receiver and get the ball to him. We love to do that because we feel like that gives us an edge, and he can really run the ball hard … We like to use them in different areas. We’ll see how they do tomorrow.”
Fayetteville will be missing a pair of players tonight -- running back/cornerback Casen Bryant and wide receiver/safety Hunter Hill.
“Bryant got hurt last week against B.B. Comer, so he’ll be out,” Limbaugh said. “He has a broken wrist. Casen was doing some nice things for us … After Casen went out, No. 3 from Comer (Raphaele Johnson) just really started unleashing on us.”
Hill suffered an injury in the Wolves’ 14-12 win over Vincent in Week 9.
“When you lose Hunter Hill, you lose one of your big defensive backs and you lose a hitter,” Limbaugh said. “He does a great job for us, but we’re without him and Casen this week. But other than that, we’re good to go.”
Looking for something special
The Wolves have gotten touchdowns from special teams in the past two weeks — a blocked punt return touchdown by Machen against Vincent and a 65-yard kick return touchdown by White against Comer.
Limbaugh said he’ll be looking for more big plays on special teams against the Tigers.
“You’ve got to get some big plays out of your special teams,” he said. “Coach (Matt) Moore’s been working well with our special teams, and you can see the past few weeks, little things have been happening with them on the positive side. We’re just going to get after them this week.
“Last week, we had a couple onside kicks that, on one of them, four Wolves touched it, but we couldn’t control the ball. That was crazy. We’re really going after it hard on special teams … Basically, you want things to be sound, but we’re going to do some special things. Hopefully, special teams will get a score for us.”