Jonesboro coach Tim Floyd hopes his team is pointed in the direction of the playoffs after two wins heading into a match-up against winless Spalding on Friday. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
JONESOBORO — Last month, Jonesboro chances of making a third straight playoff appearance seemed almost impossible.
The Cardinals offense wasn’t scoring, and the defense was having trouble stopping the opposition.
Fast-forward to this coming weekend, and the Cardinals are back in the thick of the playoff chase.
Thanks to a pair of wins over some struggling teams, Jonesboro has new life after a 1-3 start.
Before its bye week last week, the Cardinals defeated Woodland and North Clayton, a pair of teams that have a combined 1-11 and sit about the bottom of their subregions. Jonesboro enters tonight game at Spalding with a 3-3 overall record and 1-1 in Region 4-AAAA, Div. B.
A win keeps them in contention for a good position in the season-ending region play-in game.
“I think the players are doing a good job at this point in the season,” Jonesboro offensive coordinator Nate Wardlaw said. “They did a good job of dealing with some early season adversity once we fell behind 1-3 on the season. They have just adapted the mentality of one game at a time.”
The coaches said the season turnaround can be contributed to the senior leadership that has stepped up over the last few weeks.
“They have done a good job of getting us back on track,” Wardlaw said.
“We took the losses as learning experiences,” Cardinals defensive end Isaiah Seise said. “We never gave up on the team. We just stayed focused in practice and kept pumping the younger players up.”
And that method has seemed to work.
All the teams in subregion are trying to keep pace with third-ranked Griffin, which is 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the subregion. Upson-Lee is also at 2-0 in the subregion and face a struggling Riverdale team still fighting to stay in the playoff hunt. Next week, Jonesboro and Riverdale meet in what could go a long way in deciding the No. 2 spot in the standings.
“Our focus has been on the game that we are playing in that week, we can’t overlook anyone,” Seise said.
“All our games are big,” Wardlaw said. “We don’t talk about the playoffs per say. They know that these games are big for us to put ourselves in the best position.”
Getting on a hot streak is nothing new to the Cardinals under coach Tim Floyd.
Last season, Jonesboro won seven consecutive games between the fourth and 10th games before a 26-21 loss to Westover in the first round of the state playoffs.
Two years ago the Cardinals opened the season winning six in a row to up its consecutive win streak, which included a pair of wins in the final two games of 2010, to eight.
“Our confidence is very high now,” senior quarterback Mario Atkinson said. “It was tough losing those early games, but we learned from that and we are now applying it to the season. We are now in the home stretch, and we have to come ready to play each game.”