No reminders were necessary.
When Decatur High returned to practice earlier this week, Red Raiders coach Jere Adcock said everyone in the locker room was aware of the team’s situation.
The stakes for the next three games couldn’t be clearer.
Win, and a sixth straight playoff appearance remains a possibility.
But lose another Class 6A, Region 8 game?
“And we’ll be sitting at home for the playoffs,” Adcock said.
Decatur (3-3, 2-2) hosts Buckhorn (3-3, 2-2) today at 7 p.m. — the beginning of a crucial three-game stretch. The Red Raiders also have Region 8 games remaining against Sparkman and James Clemens.
For Decatur, the margin for error is gone.
“Our players understand that,” Adcock said. “Every game will be like a playoff game for us. It’s extremely important that we go out and take care of business every time we step on the field.”
There have been reoccurring trends with Decatur’s season. Every win has been followed with a loss, and the Red Raiders have given up a first-quarter deficit in every loss.
Decatur running back Josh Matthews said starting fast and playing with more intensity were two points of emphasis this week at practice.
“I think it was the best week of practice that we’ve had all year,” said Matthews, who is averaging 81 rushing yards per game. “Everyone was more focused — in tune physically and in tune mentally. We have seen our mistakes and learned from them. When you’re not focused and up with your emotions, then you’ve set yourself up for failure.”
Defense and special teams have been strengths for Decatur, but the Red Raiders’ offense has struggled to gain momentum, averaging a little more than 200 yards per game.
Matthews said changing that trend is a priority.
“We’ve got to play better, and I think we will,” Matthews said. “Our season is on the line, and it’s going to be every time we play from here on out. But we have to stay focused and take care of each game individually. If we keep that focus, play with more energy and play up to our potential, then we’ll be fine.”
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