After crushing Fort Hays State 48-21 in their final regular season game, the Missouri Western football team anxiously awaited news on whether they would achieve one of their top goals of the season: an appearance in the playoffs for only the second time in school history.
Sunday at East Hills Mall, the Griffon football team and several members of the St. Joseph community crowded around a projector tuned to ESPN to hear the announcement – Western was in. And not just playing any football team, but the rival Northwest Missouri State Bearcats who previously beat them this year 42-0.
Head coach Jerry Partridge was thrilled that his team made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
“I’m feeling satisfaction, gratitude, everything combined,” Partridge said. “We put ourselves in a position to get this really good break, and that’s all you can ask for. Now we’re in and we’ve got to be road warriors.”
Western will face Northwest on Saturday, Nov. 20 at 12:00 p.m. in Maryville, Mo.
Senior running back Thomas Hodges described his emotions after hearing about the playoffs berth.
“My first year here we went to the playoffs and we haven’t done that since,” Hodges said. “So now that we have the chance, we’ll try to make a run at it.”
After such a tough loss to the Bearcats earlier this season, the Griffons are ready to get revenge. Partridge knows that Northwest is a great team and that the game will be a challenge. He compared the team’s second chance to beat the Bearcats to a mulligan in golf.
“It’s like teeing off and you hit one out of bounds and you’ve got to hit it again,” Partridge said. “But that doesn’t mean the wind has lessened any more. We’ve got a stiff wind right in our face, and that’s Northwest Missouri. So hopefully we’ll play a lot better this time.”
Hodges agreed that Western needs to make a few changes for their second time around against the Bearcats.
“I think sometimes we get into games against great teams like Northwest and we just get so focused on ‘we have to make this play’ that our focus is just too much,” Hodges said. “We just need to go out, relax and have fun.”
Senior offensive lineman Andy Gilmore has similar feelings about the upcoming game on Saturday.
“We always said ‘just get us in the playoffs and anything can happen,’” Gilmore said.