Those around South Carolina might have expected coach Ken Cribb's Bluffton Bobcats to break out in song and dance after hearing nationally-ranked Goose Creek, their upcoming opponent in the Class 4-A playoffs, had been disqualified after using an ineligible player this season.
Not so much.
"Some of them were very disappointed they didn't get a chance to play Goose Creek," Cribb said. "They wanted to prove themselves. Others were like, 'Hey, this is an open door for us now. Let's make sure we maximize our opportunity.'"
The Bobcats (11-1) traded a date with undefeated Goose Creek for a match-up with 6-6 Conway. Instead of traveling two hours up the road to visit the Gators, they'll now welcome Conway, which will take a nearly four-hour ride to the Lowcountry.
"You get beat in the playoffs, you know it’s over and then all of the sudden you have life that you didn’t have," Conway coach Chuck Jordan said. "That’s an exciting thing for kids. anything that’s unusual and new they like, I promise you."
Never mind the fact the Tigers don't have their charter buses available anymore, forcing them to take the trip on school buses instead. They're just happy to have a second chance.
"I feel really bad for Goose Creek," Jordan said. "I hate they can’t defend their state championship. But the other part is, we’re just the recipient of that situation. We just kind of started back practice this week, passed our pads back out and went to work on a short week."
Cribb has heard talk about the Bobcats being the recipient of good fortune this week. That means little to the Bluffton coach, though, who can help the Bobcats clinch a spot in the Class 4-A semifinals after leading the team to a pair of Lower State finals in each of the past two seasons at the Class 3-A level.
"We’re excited about that, we really are," he said. "Some may see it as we had a lucky break, but we’ve been playing good football for three years now and we’re proud of where we are. We won it on the road last year, we won it on the road the year before."
Both teams have endured a short week of preparation. Cribb didn't start looking at Conway film until Tuesday and Jordan didn't take his first peek at the Bobcats until the following morning. But both coaches believe their respective teams are ready, regardless of whatever uncertainty the Tigers present at quarterback.
That comes down to whether fourth-year signal-caller Mykal Moody, a Shrine Bowl selection who has offers from SEC and ACC schools, will play. He's missed the last three games with a thigh bruise.
"You'll find out tomorrow," Jordan said with a chuckle.
Cribb expects the senior to play. He's also looking out for Conway's pair of wide receivers in deep threat Malcolm Green (1,172 yards, 11 TDs) and red zone threat Bryan Edwards (225 yards, 9 TDs).
"We're doing a little more (Thursday) than we normally do," Cribb said of practice. "We're pretty much ready. Wednesday was the first full day they got on Conway."
Jordan expressed concern over Bluffton's bevy of offensive weapons. He'll try to counter that with DE Tre Longs, who usually dictates how his defense plays with his performance. The end leads the Tigers in sacks and tackles for loss.
"They're a very good football team and Ken does a great job with his kids and he's a great motivator," Jordan said. "Our goal is just to go down there, keep fighting and hope something good happens."
Prediction: Conway has the weapons capable of making this game interesting, but the Tigers' troubles along the offensive line don't bode well against a tenacious defense like the one Bluffton presents. If the Bobcats are able to control the line of scrimmage, something they failed to do for much of the night two weeks ago in a loss at Summerville, they should be able to dictate how the game unfolds. Bluffton wins, 42-20.