RINGGOLD, Ga. (WRCB) -- Slade Dale admitted to being a little greedy when he first saw the GHSA Class AAA playoff bracket.
Never before had Ringgold won a playoff game, yet the senior quarterback wanted at least two postseason victories this year. That gave the Tigers a chance at a rematch with Central-Carroll in the state quarterfinals.
"Everyone wants a perfect season, and we feel like we gave away our perfect season to them," Dale said of Ringgold's 19-15 loss to the Lions in Week 3. "We knew they'd be in the playoffs, and that was one of the things that kept us working hard all year was maybe a chance to play them again."
Ask, and you shall receive.
The best season in program history continues this week for Ringgold with that long-awaited rematch with Central-Carroll in the state quarterfinals.
And it will be at home.
"I felt more pressure flipping that coin than I did coaching last week in the second round," said Tigers' coach Robert Akins, who earned his team home-field advantage by winning a coin toss last Saturday morning in Rome. "We flipped twice, the first time to see who would call it. He won that one, but I won the one for home-field.
"I guess I'm just a really good flipper."
The Tigers were anything but "good" in their first meeting with Central-Carroll. The two teams combined for 21 penalties and several turnovers, and Akins said it was the only time this season his team didn't match the physicality of its opponent.
Still, it was a late hail mary touchdown that provided the Lions' winning margin.
"We put the ball on the ground a couple of times, which really hurt us, but they also hit a couple of big play passes after we got lulled to sleep by the run," he said. "We really just have to be more focused this time."
Ringgold was the epitome of focused last week in a 37-12 drubbing of Cedar Grove. The Tigers, who barely survived North Hall 55-54 a week earlier for their first-ever playoff win, jumped out to a 30-0 lead in round two and were never seriously threatened.
"The first week we were a little tight and after the game there was a lot of relief," said senior lineman Dakota Baer. "But once we came back that next week and got to work, we really warmed up to the idea of winning.
"Now we're just focused on keeping it rolling."
Ringgold reeled off six straight wins after the loss to Central-Carroll until falling in its regular season finale at Cartersville. The Tigers won't get a chance to avenge that loss after the Purple Hurricane were upset in the second round last week by St. Pius.
Still, this week brings a rare chance at redemption on the biggest of stages. Some Tigers believe it was fate.
"I think this shows that everything happens for a reason," said junior running back Kile Sholl. "They beat us in the regular season so that we could beat them in the playoffs."
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET at Don Patterson Stadium. Channel 3 will have full coverage on Week 14 of Friday Night Football starting at 11:15 p.m. ET.
Friday Night Football Week 14 Schedule
TSSAA State Playoffs - Semifinals
South Pittsburg (11-1) at Coalfield (9-3), 7pm
Cleveland (10-3) at Knoxville West (12-1), 7pm
GHSA State Playoffs - Quarterfinals
Central-Carroll (10-2) at Ringgold (10-2), 7:30pm
Calhoun (11-1) at Benedictine (12-0), 7:30pm
Class A - Private Schools
Darlington (9-2) at Eagle's Landing Christian (10-0), 7:30pm
NCHSAA State Playoffs - Quarterfinals
Hayesville (6-7) at Murphy (10-3), 7:30pm
Can't find what you're looking for?