We’re just one week into the high school football season, and Durant already has as many losses as they did all of last season.
The Cougars won’t be having another undefeated regular season, after their lopsided 48-6 loss to Armwood Aug. 30, at home. It’s a fact that won’t surprise anyone familiar with Durant’s 2013 schedule, which could be the toughest in the state.
Sure, starting off the season against a perennial powerhouse such as Armwood isn’t ideal, but it will at least give Durant a taste of what to expect with a non-district schedule that includes games at Sickles (this week), Newsome and Hillsborough, as well as home games against Tampa Bay Tech and Gaither.
With the new Class 7A District 8 — Plant City, Strawberry Crest, Brandon and East Bay — it is possible for Durant to win the district and host a regional quarterfinal with a 4-6 or even a 3-7 record.
All games matter. Coaches won’t tell you any differently, but it’s the district games that truly are crucial.
With the non-district schedule Durant has to face, the district match-ups seem less intimidating. Also, if the Cougars can navigate trough the district with one of the two best records, they once again will find themselves in the playoffs, even without a goose egg in the loss column.
If this happens, they will be better prepared than last season, when they didn’t know the taste of defeat. After a game at Sickles, all of Durant’s remaining non-district games will be against 2012 playoff teams. Sickles missed the cut last year, despite a 7-3 regular season and a 4-2 record in the same district as Hillsborough and Armwood.
Durant’s Week 3 opponent is Tampa Bay Tech, a team the Cougars defeated in the region quarterfinals last fall. On Oct. 11, they will head to Newsome to face a Wolves team that handed Durant its first and only loss of 2012 in the region semifinals. The Cougars won the regular-season meeting.
Of Durant’s district opponents, none advanced to the postseason last year. In fact, no team even had a winning record, with Plant City, Strawberry Crest and East Bay all finishing with 4-6 marks.
With a new season comes new players and new opportunities for teams to improve on last year’s showings, but Durant has the advantage of recent success.
Although another undefeated season seemed farfetched, a 42-point loss wasn’t what the Cougar faithful had in mind as kickoff to the 2013 season. Still, there should be no panic in the air around the cow pastures that surround the school off Turkey Creek road.
Although it may not seem that way now, Durant is in a solid position to “three-peat” as district champions. Other teams in the district certainly will have something to say about it, especially an improved Strawberry Crest program and a Plant City team that was the only area team to pick up a “W” last week, but Durant fans shouldn’t feel discouraged.
Playing a playoff schedule in the regular season could be a blessing in disguise. Not only will it better prepare the Cougars for their four crucial district match-ups, but also it will leave no surprises should they make it back to the postseason.
Durant’s record this year could end up looking very different than a year ago, but if it leads to a deeper run into the playoffs, I’m sure players, coaches and fans will gladly accept the trade-off.