Southeast football players shrug off variables involved in playoff game

Friday, December 3, 2010

The list of possible factors for the Southeast Missouri State football team to worry about is lengthy as it prepares for its playoff opener Saturday.

The Redhawks must travel across the country.

Their flight wasn't scheduled to leave until about 9 p.m. Thursday.

They are facing the No. 5 seed, which was ranked No. 1 at the end of the regular season in both major polls.

They have to play in the cold and snow.

The players shrug off all of it.

"I haven't been in the playoffs since senior year of high school," Southeast senior offensive lineman Bryan Curry said. "I'm just happy to be in it."

The players chose to find a positive in all of the possible distractions. Standout running back Henry Harris, who is from Memphis, Tenn., said he was excited about the trip.

"I'm pretty pumped about playing all the way on the West Coast because I've never been on the West Coast," he said.

Even the late departure time didn't shake the Redhawks.

"When we went to Jacksonville State, I think we left at 7 or 8 at night and got there at 4 in the morning, and that was on a bus," Redhawks quarterback Matt Scheible said. "I like that routine we did with Jacksonville State because we've got the whole day Friday just to relax, sort of like you're at home."

Starting nose tackle J.J. Sanchez said flying out of St. Louis at about 9 p.m. would help the team.

"I think it will actually be good because we'll go through our normal day, do our normal stuff," he said. "By that time, we'll probably be pretty tired, so the plane ride will be a sleepy one. I think that will actually work better for us."

Eastern Washington's superior ranking didn't faze the Redhawks, ranked eighth and ninth in the final polls.

"That's the first time I heard they're No. 1 in the country," defensive tackle Maurice Lyles said. "I really don't pay attention to all that stuff. I just try to focus on me and my team and what I can do to help my team."

The cold and snow is a little different story. But Curry said he's willing to endure the frigid temperatures for the right reasons.

"As far as the cold, I don't want to stand in the cold, but if I have to play in it, I'll be all right," he said.

Scheible said it would be fruitless to focus on the negatives entering the playoffs. He doesn't think the Redhawks were disrespected with their draw despite winning the Ohio Valley Conference title.

"I feel like the playoff system is a prestige thing," he said. "This is the first time we've ever been in the playoffs and there's some schools that made the playoffs this year that have a good prestige about them. They've been in the playoffs before.

"I feel like you have to earn your respect a little bit. I don't feel like we got the bad end of the deal at all. All the teams that we're going to play are going to be good since they made the playoffs."

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