All season long, Meade Coach Rich Holzer has preached discipline to his players, instilling in them that in order to be winners, they’d have to act like they’d been there before.

But as the final seconds ticked down on Friday night at Broadneck, the Mustangs doused their coach with ice water and celebrated. Who could blame them? For the first time since 2001, Meade football is in the playoffs.

With a 14-0 victory in Annapolis, the Mustangs (8-2) wrapped up the fourth seed in the Maryland 4A East field and earned a date with No. 8 Arundel (10-0) next week. Meade won with a dominant defensive effort and helped eliminate the team that kept the Mustangs out of the postseason a year ago.

“It’s the first time any of us have even thought about the playoffs since last year,” senior linebacker Hunter Cox said. “It’s an amazing feeling knowing that you’re actually going this year. It’s just indescribable.”

Meade recovered two fumbles (including one in the end zone for a touchdown), came up with four interceptions and posted six sacks against the Bruins (7-3), who needed a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive. The loss, coupled with South River’s 36-35 win over No. 20 Old Mill, put the Seahawks (8-2) into the postseason instead. South River will face the Patriots (8-2) again next week.

“We’re happy that we won, first time in probably 30 years that we won a game to get into the playoffs. Last year we backed in,” South River Coach Lance Clelland said. “I don’t care who we play. We’re in and we have a great shot to win no matter who we play. Obviously we can beat Old Mill again.”

Meade junior linebacker Chris Harris put the Mustangs on the board in the first quarter, recovering a bad snap in the end zone. The Mustangs opened the second half with an onside kick that they recovered, and later scored on a a 25-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Marcus Smith to senior Daivon Nixon.

Smith completed 6 of his 21 pass attempts Friday for 59 yards. He was also Meade’s leading rusher, picking up 54 yards on the ground on 16 carries.

For Cox, one of just a handful of four-year players on a team with a high rate of turnover each year because of its location on a military base, the celebration will be over by Saturday morning when he and his teammates gather to watch film. The pride in having brought Meade back to the playoffs, he said, will last.

“It’s a great feeling that you’re the ones that are going to start a program that’s going to win and make the playoffs every year,” Cox said. “It’s just a great feeling to know that you’re the class that pushed it over the edge to get the playoffs and you set the standard for the rest of the classes.”