The Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School football team hoped to be in this position as the season played out.
The Tiger Sharks wanted to arrive at this week 1-0 in District 1-1A with back-to-back home games against West Gadsden and Liberty County in the next two Fridays.
Coming off a 21-12 road win against Tallahassee FAMU last Thursday, raising their record to 5-2 overall, the Tiger Sharks have destiny in their hands as they face the Panthers of West Gadsden 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday at Shark Field.
Win and Port St. Joe is assured of a playoff spot in the four-team district, which also includes a winless Franklin County.
Lose and the Tiger Sharks would have to beat visiting Liberty County next week to force a three-way tie for the district title and the two district playoff spots.
Beat West Gadsden and Liberty County and the district title belongs to Port St. Joe.
“You never know how your season is going to start and how it is going to go, but this is where we wanted to be,” said Port St. Joe coach Chuck Gannon. “We have to take of West Gadsden. We win and we are in.
“We are focused on West Gadsden. We can not look ahead. We have to take care of things Friday night.”
West Gadsden, Gannon said, will provide a similar look as the FAMU squad Port St. Joe beat 21-12 last Thursday in Tallahassee.
Behind Dwayne Griggs, who rushed 10 times for 135 yards, the Tiger Sharks pounded out 317 yards rushing. Cole Cryderman added 78 yards, Aaron Paul 45 and Jak Riley 32 as Port St. Joe averaged over 10 yards a carry.
Paul scored from 22 yards and Griggs from 64 sandwiched around an 18-yard pass from quarterback Drew Lacour to Griggs as Port St. Joe put up all its points in the opening half.
Lacour converted all three extra-point kicks.
FAMU added a touchdown, failing on the extra point, just before halftime and did the same early in the fourth quarter.
“Offensively I thought we did a good job in the first half but in the second half I thought we bogged down a bit,” Gannon said. “The coaches did not feel we did a good job in the second half.
“I thought overall we came out and gave a good effort. They are a very athletic team, and we swarmed around the ball and hit them which I think was important. Overall we did a good job.”
West Gadsden, Gannon said, will present similar problems exponentially enhanced.
“They are a mirror of the team we played at FAMU,” Gannon said. “They are very athletic and maybe a little more athletic than FAMU. They have some big receivers and a good running back.
“They are good and they are well-coached.”
Gannon said that after a bye week the team was a bit sluggish in practice leading up to FAMU.
With the two-day Fall Break for public schools to begin this week, Gannon said he was pleasantly surprised by the focus and attitude on Monday.
“We had a good day of practice,” Gannon said.
The keys, Gannon said, will be limiting big plays, an early lead and holding onto the football.
“We have to take care of the football,” Gannon said. “We also would like to get up on them. A team like that, you let them stay around, they are going to become more confident as the game goes along. Getting up a couple of touchdowns would help.
“We also have to tackle them. They are good in space and we can’t afford to give up the big plays. We have to make them drive to score.”