Ellwood controls its playoff destiny entering must-win region game

Published 7:39 pm Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ellwood Christian’s Devonte Cleveland goes up to catch a pass during practice on Wednesday. The Eagles will face Sunshine at home on Friday in a must-win region game that will break a three-way tie for the final playoff spot in Class 1A-Region 3. -- Robert Hudson

A close loss last Friday hurt the Ellwood Christian Academy Eagles, but they’re still in the thick of the playoff hunt going into Friday’s game.

The Eagles (3-4, 2-3 Class 1A-Region 3) will host the Sunshine Tigers (2-5, 2-3 Class 1A-Region 3) Friday at 7 p.m. in a must-win region game.

The Eagles are tied with the Tigers and the Akron Rams for the fourth and final playoff spot in Class 1A-Region 3, with all three holding a 2-3 record in the region.

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The Eagles control their own playoff destiny, with the Tigers and Rams as their last two region games of the season, and Ellwood head football coach Mike Stokes said he’s been stressing to his players to give it their all.

“We’ve just been stressing just playing hard and just keep doing the things that we’ve been doing because this game is crucial,” Stokes said. “I would have loved to have won last week, but unfortunately we didn’t. This is crucial because we need the next two region games to make it to the playoffs.”

After last week’s 6-0 loss to Billingsley, Stokes said he’s expecting the Eagles’ offense to produce this week after having to sit a few starters for disciplinary reasons last game.

“We’ve got some people back this week that we didn’t have,” Stokes said. “Unfortunately, we had to sit four or five starters down in order to teach a lesson. We’re still trying to teach discipline. The four or five we sat down, we needed them (last game), but I’d rather it be that way for that game rather it be that way for the future.”

Stokes added Sunshine will be a tough opponent, and the Eagles are in a must-win situation.

“They’re a feisty little team. They’ve only got 19 players, but that don’t mean a thing,” Stokes said. “They’re going to come in on high. They won their last two games and they beat a good Akron football team and they beat Holy Spirit. We’ve got to win this one.”