EFFINGHAM — The atmosphere has been festive in Effingham all week, with homecoming activities proceding despite rainy weather.
With homecoming and the weather to deal with, the Hearts have had to work to maintain focus on tonight’s game against Paris.
But head coach Mike McDonald thinks his team will be prepared for the Tigers.
“It’s been a little hectic,” he said. “But I think the practices we’ve had have been accomplishing what we want to accomplish.”
After a thrilling 14-13 overtime victory last week against Salem, the Hearts will try to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
“It’s still a playoff situation for us,” McDonald said. “We’ve got to win out.”
Despite not completing a pass for the first three and a half quarters against Salem, the Hearts kicked things into gear to earn a victory. Nathan Vail hit Drew Levitt for a game-tying touchdown and Caydin Vaughn took a Vail pass to the end zone in overtime last week.
Continuing that momentum will be a key against Paris.
“Offensively we’re trying to polish things up and work on our timing,” McDonald said.
He added that he believes the Hearts have more overall team speed than the Tigers, something they need to exploit in the running game.
“Getting to the edge on our sweeps will be very important,” he said.
Defensively, McDonald said his team will need to watch out for the unexpected against a tricky Paris team.
“We have to be disciplined,” he said. “They throw some trick plays in there. We have to be on our toes.”
The Hearts are tied for second place in the Apollo Conference with Paris, Mattoon and Mt. Zion with a 1-1 record. Charleston (2-0) sits atop the standings.
Newton (2-3) vs. Robinson (3-2)
After a defense-fueled 14-6 victory over Marshall last week, the Eagles will look to even their record against Robinson tonight.