Photo by Derrick Mahone
Drew coach Jarrett Laws will take his team on the road to Burke County for its first playoff appearance in school history. The Titans are the No. 4 seed from Region 4-AAA.
Drew coach Jarrett Laws had envisioned this day would come for his football team.
Three years ago, Laws took the challenge of starting the Drew football program. After playing through a JV schedule its first season, the Titans suffered through a 2-8 record in 2010.
The Titans made a big turnaround this season and finished with a 7-3 record and the No. 4 seed from Region 4-AAA in Friday’s first round playoffs.
Despite having no players with playoff experience, Laws is still confident in his team’s ability.
“It could be a blessing in disguise,” Laws said. “It could play to our advantage because these kids don’t know any better. They don’t know that the playoffs are any different than any other game. We got our seat at the table, now we have to prove that we belong there.”
In preparing his team for its first playoff appearance, Laws did a two-year contract to play playoff powerhouse Cairo on the road the last two seasons. In 2010, the Titans were blown out 40-0 in the season opener.
This season, Drew lost 7-6 after going for the win instead of a tie in the closing minutes of the game. The Titans missed a game-winning field goal at the buzzer.
“It was always the goal to prepare this team for the playoffs with games at Cairo,” Laws said. “We fell the playoffs will be nothing new for us because our kids have gotten on a bus and played some good teams.”
The players say their emotions for the upcoming playoff game at Burke County, the Region 3-AAA champion, ranges from excited to anxious. This will not be Drew’s offensive lineman Antonio Garcia’s first playoff trip.
He was a member of the school’s basketball team that reach the Class AAA quarterfinals last season.
“I’ve been trying to put pressure on the guys to let them know that a loss means the end of the season,” said Garcia, who has committed to playing next season at Troy. “This will be intense because its one and done if you don’t win. I’ve told them that our backs are against the wall.”
Titans linebacker Ben Kittler sees a bigger picture in Drew’s first playoff game.
“It is a special situation for our school and Clayton County,” Kittler said. “It is a chance to put Clayton County on the map. This county is not seen as an elite playoff county. We want to set a new standard.”