Southern's football players spent most of last weekend lamenting a disappointing football season. "We didn't live up to our potential," running back Bobby Atwell said. "It's just frustration. We didn't really deserve to make the playoffs."

They qualified anyway.

Despite going 5-5 and losing its season finale to Annapolis in a blowout, Southern qualified for the Maryland 2A South Region playoffs, where it will play Potomac (Md.) in the first round Saturday at 1 p.m. The news came as a pleasant surprise to most of Southern's players, who thought that their season had ended.

After the loss to Annapolis, some Southern players cleaned out their lockers, assuming they had failed to qualify for the playoffs. They didn't learn otherwise until Coach Russ Meyers found players at school Monday morning and told them to get ready for practice.

"I'll be honest with you," Meyers said, "I wasn't real confident after the loss. I told the kids after the game Friday night kind of what needed to happen. It's confusing, but by now we've got it figured out."

Southern's on-field inconsistencies will be harder to solve. It averages more than three turnovers per game and has fumbled seven times in the last two weeks.

-- Eli Saslow