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Eagles welcome Leopards in first round action

With a cool, crisp November breeze blowing, the Goshen Eagles hit the football field Thursday afternoon for the last time before the opening round of the playoffs.

While other teams around the county will be preparing for bus rides to their football games, the Eagles are the lone team playing host to a team in the opening round, and with good reason.

Since falling three points short of taking down Elba on the road, GHS has been unstoppable, winning eight-straight games, and posting a 9-1 record.

The streak is the longest for the Eagles since 1991, when it was 10 in a row.

That same year was the last time GHS had nine wins in the regular season as well.

GHS has also cracked the Top team in the ASWA Class 2A poll, sitting at No. 8.

But all of that does not mean anything to Eagle head coach Bart Snyder and his team – all they are focused on is the next opponent.

“Mentally, the guys are ready,” Snyder said.

“We have our goals for what we want to do this season, but just like the regular season, we are taking it one week at a time. Even though this is a new season, the same mindset applies and the guys have a really good understanding of that. That’s something that is going to help this team, especially right now,” he added.

Now, the Eagles will open the second season against Mobile Christian.

The Leopards finished with a 7-3 overall record, 5-2 in region play.

Away from Harrison Field, Mobile Christian finished with a 3-2 record.

This will be Mobile Christians’ 21st postseason appearance Friday night in Goshen.

In first round games, Mobile Christian has an 8-11 record all-time, however, once past the first round the Leopards have a 6-7 record, including three state championship wins.

The Eagles will be hoping the visiting team will not get the chance to play for its third state championship.

And to make sure that happens, GHS is using the knowledge it gained from its last opponent to prepare for Mobile Christian.

“The two teams are very similar,” Snyder said about Providence Christian and Mobile Christian.

“Providence Christian liked to throw the ball a lot more than most of the team we had seen this season and Mobile Christian is the same way. (Mobile) likes to spread the ball out and they do a very good job at it. They are incredibly well coached and very disciplined. Defensively, I didn’t think we played the greatest against Providence, so that is something that we have spent a lot of extra time with this week in practice, getting ready for what is to come on Friday.”

The Eagles gave up 242 yards and 24 points to PCA in the season finale last week.

“Our guys really wanted to win the Providence game, they wanted to end the season on a good note,” the Eagle head coach said.

“We struggled at times during the game, but overall, I was very proud of how our guys kept fighting. Hopefully, we will have improved on the areas that needed it for Mobile Christian.”

But while the Eagles may be concerned with what the Leopards may be able to do through the air, Mobile Christian is faced with the same challenge 10 other teams have had this season – stop Goshen running backs Marcus Jackson and Reginald Foster.

For the regular season, both Eagle running backs eclipsed the 1,000-yard marker as Jackson finished with 1,303 yards and Foster finished with 1,067.

The dynamic duo combined for 42 of the Eagles’ 65 points in the regular season finale, and finished with 16 and 20 touchdowns respectively for the season.

“We are going to do what we do best,” Snyder said. “And that’s run the ball.

“But its not just those two guys, we have had a lot of productivity from a lot of our running backs this season. We are going to have the same approach going into the playoffs. Our running game has opened up a lot for our offense and hopefully that will continue in the playoffs.”

This will be the 13th time the Eagles have advanced to the postseason, as Goshen will be looking eight all-time wins in the first round tonight when the kick off against the Leopards at 7 p.m.