NORMAN — There’s still three weeks left in the regular season, but it’s this week that has Little Axe coach Ted Dorrell’s full attention.
“The winner’s probably going to the playoffs, and the loser’s probably not,” he said of Friday’s home game against Marlow. “It’s a big game for us.”
If Dorrell’s prediction is correct, and Little Axe (3-4, 1-2) can defeat Marlow (4-3, 1-3), it will punch the Indians’ ticket to the playoffs for just the second time in school history.
The schedule seems to bear that out. Class 3A-1 has an unbalanced schedule with just seven district teams. That means that a district record of 3-3 will likely be good enough to make the postseason. With a win on Friday, Little Axe would need to win just one of its final two games, against Jones (3-4, 2-1) and Mount St. Mary (3-4, 1-2). If the Indians can do that, the seniors on this year’s squad would be the only players in school history to play twice in the playoffs after the team’s run there three years ago.
“I’m really proud of our kids,” Dorrell said. “It’s been an up and down season. We started off well, but then we had a four-game stretch that was rough, including a triple-overtime loss at Centennial. Playing through that isn’t easy.”
But the Indians did just that, and responded last week by jumping on top of Bridge Creek early and riding it to a 56-6 victory. It’s a win that Dorrell hopes will jumpstart a late-season run to the postseason, possibly with a seeding as high as No. 3.
Dorrell credited the Indians’ success to a complete team effort. Junior quarterback Keith Robertson has orchestrated an offense that spreads the ball out and also relies on dynamic wide receivers Tyler Brewer and Garrett Osborne. Meanwhile, it’s truly been running back by committee for the Indians, who have had six different players get touches out of the backfield this season.
All of it is made possible by an offensive line that Dorrell said has been a “luxury” to have.
“We’ve had the same line every game,” he said. “That’s not something you always get. I’m really proud of them and the job they’ve done.”
But nothing has been more important to Little Axe’s success this season than a shift in mentality. With the help of a thin roster and intense spring and summer workouts, the Indians have been more physical with than their opponents, something Dorrell said has not always been the case in the past.
“The kids have come out and started hitting people,” he said. “No matter what spread offense you run, eventually you just have to hit people. Our kids are playing well, we’re healthy and we like our chances coming down the road. I’m pretty excited about the direction we’re headed.”
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