Although the Hilltoppers came up short against the Greenwood Bulldogs, coach William Cook wants the experience of another playoff season to provide a new mindset and lead to changed expectations.
“We want to go from ‘it’s great when we make it’ to ‘this is what we do,’” Cook said.
The Hilltoppers made history in 2012, winning their first playoff game and making the third round and broke another school record this season by entering playoffs three consecutive years.
But Cook wants more for the team’s future.
“We want it to be that it’s expected we’ll be there, not that it’s a surprise we made it,” Cook said.
The Toppers trip to playoffs this season matched them against a very big, very tough Greenwood team.
“They’ll go far in playoffs,” predicted Cook.
The Bulldogs controlled the game from the first quarter, capitalizing on Houston’s mistakes and making very few on their own possessions.
But one Greenwood mistake definitely stood out as they fumbled in the opening drive of the third quarter. Houston’s Devin Murphy scooped up the ball and ran it back 67-yards for Houston’s sole touchdown and Wes Parker’s PAT was good to put the Hilltoppers on the board.
“I think that’s every lineman’s dream,” said defensive coordinator Coty Cox. “To scoop and score. If you ask any lineman, offense or defense, what his dream is, it’s to score.”
The Bulldogs took the win, 52-8.
Building for another season
The Toppers listed nine seniors this season, with eight playing and one out for recovery from surgery and Cook wants his underclassmen to come up with an expectation of an extended season every year. The non-divison schedule is loaded with quality teams for a reason.
“You want to play a tough schedule to get ready for division and playoffs,” Cook said.
Overall, he said he was pleased with the defensive effort across the season.
“Denver (McQuary) ended up with eight picks for the season,” Cook said. “Nate Smith worked himself in the off-season to being a player this year.”
He also sees sparks for the future in several underclassmen.
“On offense, we found some younger guys to get experience for positions in the future.”
And the future isn’t far off.
“We’ll start off-season workouts next week,” Cook said “Next year’s team starts now.”