Minco has been in playoff mode for weeks.
After starting the season 2-4 — including 0-3 in District A-3 — the Bulldogs have won three straight games, putting them in position to win this week against Pioneer and claim the No. 4 spot in the district.
“It's gotten more exciting, I think, being out there playing knowing that if you do lose, you're done,” junior receiver Jacob Overton said. “It kind of adds a thrill to the playing experience.”
Minco lost to defending champion Wayne, Cashion, Crescent and Watonga, three of Class A's top 10 teams.
Since then, games haven't been close, with Minco winning by an average of 47-16.
“We've already played who I feel like are the top at least three of the top five teams in the state,” Minco coach Clint Warren said. “I really feel like probably four of the top 10. I mean, it sure can't hurt in the playoffs to have that experience.”
Overton will also be a big boost this week and possibly in the playoffs. He has 1,016 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, and more than 2,500 yards in his career.
“He's pretty special,” Warren said. “You just have to throw it around him and he'll catch it.”
The Bulldogs last missed the playoffs in Warren's first season in 2009. Each season since, they at least made it to the second round.
And now a slow start can be redeemed this week.
“I think it opened our eyes to the teams that are out there,” Overton said. “We played with all of those teams; we were right there in the game. There were just a few plays that separated us from winning.
“It showed us that we can play with anybody in the state, we just needed to keep improving to get to where we can beat them.”