By mark rogers
November 29, 2011

The Abilene High Eagles are back in the 4th round of the playoffs...a place they've been quite a bit the last few years.

They got here thanks to a close win against Mansfield HS on Saturday at Shotwell Stadium. Coach Steve Warren said he has never played a game in the kind of wind they experienced over the weekend. If he had a comb-over, it would have been blowing all over his headphones...luckily he shaves his head, which is the best look for any man (or so my wife would have me believe).

The wind was the reason he decided to give the ball to Mansfield in the second and fourth quarters...a seemingly crazy move...but guess what? Steve Warren is a lot smarter about football than most of us, and the move proved to be the difference in the game as the Eagles were able to create a 17 point lead in the first quarter when the wind was behind them. That lead ended up being enough for the win.

Next up for the Eagles? Mansfield Timberview. A relatively new school with a football team that has never been this deep in the playoffs...good sign for AHS on paper.

They lost two games this year: a non-district game against Cedar Hill and a district match up against the team the Eagles just defeated - Mansfield...good sign for AHS on paper.

But if good signs on paper were what decided games, the Eagles may not even be where they are now so we'll throw those out.

Timberview is an option team. They have an above average QB and RB who are extremely efficient at running their offense. About 60% of their starters are seniors, so they're a veteran-heavy club, but don't have this type of playoff experience.

I've said from the beginning of the playoffs that the only way to beat the Eagles is to keep the ball away from them. That means long, sustained drives of 6 or 7+ minutes and 9+ plays. Something passing teams aren't prone to doing.

But this isn't a passing team. Timberview is the type of team which could potentially go on long drives, keep the ball away from the Eagles and come out of Denton with a victory.

So the key, in my opinion, is for the Eagle defense to stop Timberview on third down and get the ball back in the hands of Abbe and Grayer.

Grayer, by the way, is going to be fine. He'll be limited in practice today, but will practice and the hip is making great progress.

Not to look ahead, but if the Eagles are able to pull out the Region 1 championship, they'll play the winner of the Spring Dekaney and Spring Westfield game which is in Humble at the same time the Eagles will be playing.

And that, my friends, would be another trip to the final four.

Just an FYI, the teams still alive on the other side of the bracket are Cibolo Steele, PA Memorial, La Porte, and SA Reagan.

The Eagles will be ready to play come Saturday at 2 PM. They're relatively healthy and hungry for another state champioship, gale force winds or not.

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