Greenwood playing free heading into state semifinals
By beating Iowa Park in the fourth round, the Greenwood Rangers avenged last season’s playoff loss and moved themselves to one win away from the state championship game.
Coach Rusty Purser said the win also lifted a weight off of his usually fun-loving team.
“Those last couple weeks were big for these guys, and they put a lot of pressure on themselves,” Purser said. “They weren’t quite as relaxed as they have been all year. That has changed back to normal this week.”
Purser’s players agree.
“Yeah if you came and watched us practice you probably wouldn’t think we’d be in the semifinals,” senior receiver Brody Ray said. “But that’s just how we roll. We’re loose. We don’t want to be tight. We’re still having fun for sure.”
Don’t mistake having fun for a lack of focus though. The Rangers know what they’re up against in top-ranked Texarkana Pleasant Grove, a team that won the state championship in 2017 and was the runner-up last season.
“I think the biggest thing is how many football games they’ve played over the last three years,” Purser said. “They’re nearly to 50 games, and that’s unbelievable experience. They have a ‘been here, done that’ kind of mentality.”
“They are a good team and we’re going to have to play our best game, but we’re not scared of anyone,” senior quarterback Weston Wilber said. “Every time we’ve stepped out there, every Friday we feel like we’re going to win the game. So it’s not going to be any different this Friday.”
Adding to the moment, the Rangers will spend the night in a Frisco hotel, before playing inside the Ford Center at The Star, the headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys.
“Honestly this is one of those things that makes it fun,” Purser said. “That’s kind of how we’re trying to approach it as a coaching staff. We’re trying to keep everything as close to normal as we can, because there’s going to be a lot of things that are not.”
As the old saying goes, this isn’t a vacation; it’s a business trip. But the Rangers are still going to have their fun.