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Clarkdale seeking playoffs

By By Will Bardwell / staff writer
Oct. 8, 2003
The fat lady is not singing yet.
After an 0-5 start to the season, Clarkdale opened Division 5-2A play on Friday with a 20-14 overtime win over Lake. The defending district champion Bulldogs now find themselves in a curious situation 1-5 overall, yet undefeated in district play.
"I told the kids that no matter what our record is, these last five games are more important than the first five games," said Clarkdale head coach Joey Ethridge. "You want to win every game, but the first five are more for pride where the last five are all district games."
Now tied with Philadelphia for first place in the division, the Bulldogs hope to continue their newfound success on Friday when they travel to Durant to face Williams-Sullivan.
"Every game is a must-win, but for the playoffs, this is definitely a must-win," Ethridge said. "This is not the Williams-Sullivan of the last two years. If we don't come ready to play, they are very capable of beating us."
Williams-Sullivan is 3-3 overall and 0-1 in division play after Friday's 26-14 loss to Kemper County. After beginning the season 3-0, the Yellowjackets have lost three straight.
Ethridge knows from recent experience that a team can break out of a slump at any time, and he does not want the Yellowjackets to bounce back against his Bulldogs. Still, he said the team's first win has given them a boost in morale that he hopes will carry over.
"It's always good to get the first win under your belt and get it out of the way," Ethridge said. "It was important for the kids because they were able to come from behind. In that respect, I think it was more important than if we'd had a blowout. The thing we have to remember is not to have a letdown."
A win against Williams-Sullivan would go a long way toward Clarkdale's goal of a playoff berth. Four of the division's six teams advance to the postseason, and a 2-0 start would almost assure the Bulldogs an appearance in the postseason.
"Williams-Sullivan has got some good-sized kids and they've got some fast kids," Ethridge said. "They use a bunch of formations. Generally they run the same plays, but they give you different looks all night long."
The key, Ethridge said, is for the Bulldogs to execute a gameplan that is beginning to bring results.
"That's what I've been stressing to the kids continue getting better every week," Ethridge said. "We are the defending champs, and that can be a burden but it can also motivate."