What a way to finish.
The Brewer Patriots ended a not-so-perfect regular season last week with a near-perfect per-formance, dominating Danville 56-0 to improve to 5-5.
It was a struggle at times, especially on offense, but Brewer improved significantly in the sec-ond season of the Matt Plunkett era. Most importantly, the Patriots snagged a playoff berth by finishing the season as the No. 3 seed in 5A, Region 8 with a 3-3 record.
The Pats were 2-8 in Plunkett’s first season.
Now, thoughts and preparation turn to the first round of the 5A playoffs. Brewer travels to Scottsboro on Friday to play the No. 2 seed in Region 7. Scottsboro finished 6-4 overall but 5-1 in region games, behind only the top seed, No. 7-ranked Arab (9-1, 6-0).
Arab defeated Scottsboro 28-7 at home on Sept. 16. Two weeks later, Scottsboro stunned Re-gion 7 co-leader Guntersville 17-14. The win proved crucial for the Wildcats, who moved into second place alone in the region after Arab also beat Guntersville.
Brewer has seen Arab in person, losing to the Knights 35-0 in its second game of the season, so Plunkett and his players know they have a tall task ahead of them.
“First of all, we’ve got to slow down Scottsboro’s run attack,” Plunkett said. “Then, the Brew-er red zone offense has to come alive Friday night.”
Plunkett has been harping most of the season on his offense’s inability to take advantage turn-overs or breaks. The Patriots moved the ball on Arab but could not score a point when it got close.
Plunkett is hoping Friday’s big win against Danville has pumped up his offensive players’ con-fidence. The Patriots ran for a school-record 374 yards and gained 545 yards of total offense.
Lukas Simpson ran for 128 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries. Austyn Holmes rushed for 110 yards and three TDs on six carries. He also had an interception on defense.
Senior quarterback Caden Childers also had a breakout game, rushing for 64 yards on eight carries and throwing for 92 yards and one TD. For good measure, he also had an interception on defense.
Cason Oden had four catches for 62 yards. Walker Latham had a 32-yard TD reception. Hunter Knighton had 86 yards and one touchdown on five receptions.
Austin Williams had a fumble recovery for the Brewer defense. Creating turnovers will be a key for the Patriots defense.
“Our defense needs to force a big turnover or two and us capitalize on any Scottsboro mis-takes,” Plunkett said. “Brewer will need to grab momentum early and not allow Scottsboro to control the game.
“We have to execute our game plan, and on defense that means having eye discipline. Our third-down defense will be a major emphasis in the game.”