They know each other very well — almost too well.
It was just two weeks ago that Deckerville defeated Peck, 50-6, in a game that helped the Eagles clinch the North Central Thumb 8-Man League title.
Such a lopsided result would appear to work in the Eagles favor as the team’s will renew their rivalry Friday night in the 8-man football playoffs. But Deckerville isn’t taking anything for granted after dropping three consecutive games to the Pirates entering the season.
“The worst thing is when you just played them two weeks previously,” Deckerville coach Bill Brown said. “I am very cautious and trying to be very thorough. I don’t want to miss anything. They are a great program and you have to cover all of your bases.
“I think especially with us not being an overly talented team. We need to play at a certain level and not make mistakes. Getting our team back up mentally is the biggest change we have. When you are in the playoffs, you will have a big game or tight game. Somehow you have to get yourself emotionally and mentally back ready. That’s the hardest thing. The X’s and O’s, we can find a way. We were sky high (emotionally) when we played them before. We have to be mentally prepared.”
The Eagles (8-1) enter the postseason riding a high as winners of three straight games. Their only defeat this season was a 34-30 loss to Morrice in Week 6.
The Pirates (7-2), meanwhile, have also lost to Morrice (42-0) in addition to falling to Deckerville. They will hope for the upset when they travel to face the Eagles.
“Adjustment wise, we are both super familiar with each other,” Peck coach Rob McDaniel said. “I think we are both confident in what we want to do offensively. The key is who executes their offense and defense better. There aren’t going to be anything fancy or trick plays. They are a traditional powerhouse and since I’ve been at Peck, we like to play like we like to play. I just think it’s going to be a very tight game.
“I learned that with the team I have this year, I can’t afford to make any mistakes. We have to be mistake free. We have to play that way to have a chance. Deckerville is very solid. They are methodical. They execute everything perfectly. You have to be on the top of your game and execute. We have gotten better as the season has progressed,” coach McDaniel said. “We are executing better right now. Our confidence is up at this point.”
Home field advantage could be another key. Deckerville is counting on a raucous crowd and that could pay dividends, especially if the game is close.
“I think when you play at our place, I think it is an advantage for us,” coach Brown said. “It’s something about it. The field is always in a great position. We have great facilities, of course. But they travel well and last year’s game was huge, too. I assume it will be a very well played game and a lot of fans there. I still think we haven’t reached our potential.”
The Eagles hope to take care of the ball on offense while allowing its standout defense to pressure Peck. That defense has allowed seven or less points in six of the Eagles games.
“We have been making a few mistakes we need to get ironed out,” coach Brown said. “The biggest thing in the playoffs is not beating ourselves. We will be in a lot of football games with our defense.”
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @jhayes1136.