By Raymond Linex II
When you get this far into the playoffs, you take the bad, with the good.
For Mildred coach Patrick Harvell, it’s the number of requests pouring in. When your team is one of 18 left in the state playing, two in your division, you become a hot commodity.
“It’s extremely hectic,” Harvell said Monday morning. “You have to focus on what is most important, and that’s playing a game and winning a game.
“There are phone calls from the UIL and newspapers and radio stations and family and friends. At some point, you have to say no. But I have tried to be as accomodating to as many folks as I can.”
The added headaches mean his team is still playing, and there is certainly good in that. The Eagles (13-1) face East Bernard (14-0) in the Class 2A Division II state championship game Thursday night at 8 p.m. at Cowboys Stadium. It will be broadcast on radio locally by 106.9 FM The Ranch, and on television state-wide by Fox Sports Southwest.
The Thursday night kickoff also means it’s a short week for both teams. Mildred has played 14 of the last 15 weeks on Friday nights, including 11 in a row. Harvell is a stickler for playing on Fridays, as evidenced by the willingness to return home around 3:30 a.m. Saturday from last Friday’s game, a 28-14 win over Sonora in Marble Falls.
But, the quick turnaround is less of a hinderance than the phone ringing.
“It’s probably a good thing for us,” Harvell said. “We’re beat up at the end of this very long journey. It’s a long, grueling grind, and it does limit the amount of practice time we have. But our main focus is getting everyone to the game as fresh as possible.”
The change in days will be less impactful than an earlier kick would have been. Last year, the Division II-2A game was played at noon on Friday. This year, Division I-2A is playing in that time slot. The Eagles will get to maintain their game-day routines.
The Eagles also will have their shortest trip in this long post-season. Cowboys Stadium is about 80 miles from Mildred High School. East Bernard faces a 260-mile trip from west of Houston.
It’s the shortest trip of the playoffs by 10 miles one-way, and more than 100 miles closer than Marble Falls.
“This game is nice in a lot of aspects, and certainly travel is one of them,” Harvell said.
On the road again
Mildred’s quest to get to the state championship game has been a long journey. Ironically, Thursday’s trip will be the shortest of the playoffs. Here are the sites and sitances (shortest offered by Google mapping):
Area, W, Cooper, 38-14
Lindale 91.6 miles
Regs., W, Clarksville, 44-14
Longview 121 miles
Reg. finals, W, Nocona, 45-35
Aledo 102 miles
Semifinal, W, Sonora, 28-14
Marble Falls 185 miles
State, vs. East Bernard
Arlington 81.5 miles
Advance tickets will be on sale at the Mildred Athletic Field House through Wednesday, $12 for adults, $8 for students. All tickets at the gate are $15, and parking is $10. For more information about Thursday's game and advance tickets, visit www.mildredisd.org, or contact Jamie Kitchens at firstname.lastname@example.org or (903) 875-9729.