ALBANY – The Albany football team is in decent shape for the Class 3A playoffs heading into Friday’s regular season finale on the road against Hannan.
But Hornets coach Mike Janis knows the Hornets can help themselves a little more with a victory.
“Our goal at the start of the season was to make history here at the school and win the school’s first playoff game, and that hasn’t changed,” Janis said as the Hornets enter the game at No. 21 in the LHSAA’s unofficial Class 3A power rankings. “I feel pretty confident that we’ve done enough to this point to get in the playoffs, but at this point now, it’s about setting yourself up to make that history happen, and obviously another win would give us a better opportunity to make that happen.”
Albany (5-4, 1-2 in district) rolled up 303 yards of total offense -- 132 rushing and 171 passing – but it’s the six turnovers, including a lost fumble on a two-point conversion in last week's 21-7 non-district win over Beau Chene, Janis can do without.
“It’s just too many mistakes,” Janis said. “It’s a game of what could have been rather than what was and some things that we’re going to have to fix because another performance like that, and we won’t be able to pull off another win, especially against a good Hannan team.”
Meanwhile, the Hornets held Beau Chene to 189 yards of total offense and got a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown from linebacker Tyler Bates.
“I thought we played really well,” Janis said of the defensive effort. “We were a little ‘bend but don’t break’ at times. I think our defense was a little surprised by the scheme that they came out and ran. They were more of a gap team running the ball coming into the game. We were practicing reading those linemen and hitting the holes, and kind of trying to blow that stuff up in the backfield. They came out and ran a little delay zone where they handed the guy the ball and let him try to find the hole, and once he did, he was a very explosive runner, so it took us a little time to kind of settle in there, but we did a really good job in the secondary and our linebackers did a good job finding the ball and we were able to keep the out of the end zone most of the night …”
Albany was penalized four times for 50 yards against Beau Chene, which Janis called ‘mental lapses in judgement’.
Janis said he’s not overly concerned with that because of circumstances surrounding the game, including that it was Senior Night for the Hornets and unfamiliarity with Beau Chene as an opponent.
“That team had one win and I tried to emphasize to those guys that this was their Super Bowl,” Janis said. “They were going to leave everything out on the field trying to beat us, and we did respond in areas. I’m not saying that our guys played a bad football game, because we had a lot of guys that excelled in that game. It was just a few mistakes here and there, and it’s going to be the focal point this week in practice of correcting those, and I think everybody’s on board with trying to go out there and take care of business this week.”
Hannan (3-6, 2-1) is coming off a 20-19 loss to Loranger, and Janis said the key to the Hawks’ offense is Jake Dalmado, who started the season at running back but is now playing quarterback.
“They are lined up and just going to come right at you,” Janis said. “A little bit of misdirection in the backfield, but they’re going run the football, and they’ve done it exceptionally well the last three weeks. It’s something that they’ve found some success with, and they’re going to keep doing it. It’s going to be quite a challenge to stop it this week.”
Janis is hoping the Hornets’ previous experiences against Loranger and Pearl River, teams that featured strong running game, will benefit the Hornets on Friday.
“If that’s what they’re going to do, I think we can play to that,” Janis said of Hannan’s style of offense.
Defensively, Janis said the Hawks are showing 3-3 and 3-4 looks on film.
“They’re just very disciplined,” Janis said. “They look the same as the Hannan teams we used to play at Springfield. They’re going to be in position. Last year, I thought they were exceptionally well defending the wing-T, and they had some really good defensive linemen. Those guys have gone, but their replacements are still extremely disciplined and well-coached. They’re not going to be a team that’s going to bite on the misdirection stuff. We’re just going to have to be efficient in what we do and make sure that we’re completing passes and holding on to the football when we run it.”
In addition to possibly gaining a higher playoff seeding with a win, Janis said there are other goals the team can accomplish with a victory.
“I think it’s an opportunity to set us up pretty well in the playoffs if we come out of here with a win,” Janis said. “It’s also an opportunity for us to finish .500 in district. Last year, we weren’t able to win a district game. This year, we’ve got one and an opportunity now to go out and get a second one and finish 2-2 in district.
“It’s a game that we want to come out and show that we’re right there with the rest of the district teams,” Janis continued. “I think we’ve garnered some respect in how we’ve played the last few weeks. We just want to come out and show what we’re capable of.”