By winning three straight games, including an upset of then-No. 4 Hylton on Saturday, Woodbridge has stormed into the Division 6 Northwestern Region playoff picture, a feat that surprised many -- but perhaps not anyone in a Vikings uniform.
"I'd always thought that we had a great team and a great coaching staff," said senior quarterback Adam Rotruck, whose eight-yard keeper in the second overtime gave Woodbridge a 12-6 win over Hylton. "It was just a matter of time before we started putting it together and believing in ourselves and getting it done."
The Vikings (5-4, 3-2) will have to get it done one more time to reach the playoffs. They host Gar-Field (6-3, 3-2) at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow. The winner will snare the fourth and final Division 6 postseason spot in the Northwestern Region.
While Woodbridge has sneaked into contention, Gar-Field has been hanging on, enduring shutout losses to Hylton and Osbourn Park over four days before righting itself in a 35-6 win over Forest Park on Saturday.
Both teams need to win to reach the playoffs, but Gar-Field, considered a preseason favorite by some, might feel like it has the most to lose. Regardless of the outcome, the Vikings will post their best record since going 6-5 in 1997. They have dropped the past nine games against the Indians, including one by 14-6 three weeks ago, the first game back after the sniper-related stoppage.
"The pressure's on them because they were picked at the beginning of year ahead of Hylton," Rotruck said.
Gar-Field controls its own destiny, as coaches like to say, but it cannot control the field conditions, and that is a cause for concern. The Indians' triple option has bogged down in the mud the past few weeks, and they likely will encounter at best a soft playing surface tomorrow.
"Our football team has to be ready for any conditions, but the problem is that the mud is an equalizer, and I think it takes something away from the game when you're slopping around like that," Gar-Field Coach Jim Poythress said. "I don't know how much you can tell from some of these mud bowls. Did I learn anything about our team against Osbourn Park [a 6-0 loss played in a downpour]? I don't think so, except that a couple of kids could swim."
The conditions were muddy when Woodbridge played at Gar-Field on Oct. 26. Indians senior quarterback Elihu Smith ran for two first-quarter touchdowns before the field got too torn up. Woodbridge also scored in the first quarter, on a 40-yard interception return by senior Robert Thompson.
But overall the Vikings were more productive in the muck, gaining 13 first downs to the Indians' four. Five drives ended in Gar-Field territory.