By JOEL COLEMAN
One week ago, the Ackerman defense rose to the challenge against a ground-and-pound O'Bannon offense to advance to the second round of the playoffs with a 21-0 victory.
Tonight at 7 p.m. in Ackerman, a much different challenge awaits the Indians in the form of the Broad Street Jaguars, who topped Baldwyn 22-14 last Friday to get to this point.
Turning to the passing game with much more frequency than Ackerman's first-round opponent, Broad Street's offense is averaging nearly 33 points per contest this season, an impressive fact that isn't lost on Indians head coach Adam Dillinger.
"They rely a lot on spreading it out and being explosive," said Dillinger. "They're very athletic and have kids that can fly. They've got a really good quarterback that's a threat to run the ball and has a really strong arm, plus he's got a couple of good targets out wide.
"They're just a big play waiting to happen at anytime. We've just got to guard against that and keep them in front of us and keep them from popping a big play. They're going to be a real big challenge for us."
Broad Street (8-3) has consistently found a way to pile up the points all season long. The Jaguars have scored at least 20 points in every game but one this season, scoring 30 points or more in seven contests.
To counter Broad Street's scoring threats, Ackerman (9-3) will rely on a defensive unit that has posted three shutouts this season and held opponents to eight points or fewer five different times.
One of those instances occurred last week as Ackerman blanked O'Bannon.
Yet, even as the Indians kept the Green Wave off the scoreboard, Dillinger was displeased with the amount of yardage and first downs his club surrendered.
Dillinger said he and his staff felt their team struggled moreso due to a lack of focus than a lack of execution, something Dillinger says can't happen against Broad Street.
"I think as much as anything, we kind of had a sandwich game last week, coming off a big game with Hamilton the week before," said Dillinger. "So I think it was more of an intensity thing. We just need to come out and play with a lot more intensity this week."
If Ackerman can muster the determination Dillinger seeks, the Indians could very well find themselves in a third-round game next week against the winner of tonight's West Bolivar-Bruce matchup.
If the Indians falter however, it'll bring to an end what has been a turnaround year for Ackerman after last season's 1-10 campaign.
According to Dillinger, that's all just the nature of this time of year.
"Each round you go, you're going to play somebody better each week and these teams don't get here by accident," said Dillinger. "They earned the right to be here just like we have. They're going to come ready to play. One slip up is all it takes in the playoffs. You're 0-0 every week. One loss and you're done.
"There's no more getting it fixed next week. You better win and take care of it while you can."