JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mandarin has enjoyed some good season of football since the school was founded in 1990, but nothing like this. Friday, the Mustangs will play in the state semi-finals for the first time ever when they face Sarasota Riverview.
It's a huge opportunity for Mandarin, who will host the game at 7:30. They expect a big crowd for the game and are even renting more powerful speakers for the public address system for the game.
The Mustangs are 9-4 entering Friday night's matchup, after playing a rigorous schedule that included seven teams that made the playoffs. In the postseason, the Mustangs have beaten DeLand, Winter Park and top-seeded Wekiva to earn their semi-final spot.
"We're super-excited," quarterback Carson Beck said. "We've already made history for Mandarin High School This whole entire playoffs we've been super excited, and making sure that we just focus on a one week season every single time, because if we lose, the season is over just like that."
Perhaps the biggest obstacles for the Mustangs this week is not to get overwhelmed by the frenzy.
"The biggest thing for me as a head coach and us as a staff is to make sure that we don't allow the distractions of being at home to be an issue," Ramsay said. "You need to stay on edge and use the advantage that you aren't going to have bus legs and that you're going to have a crowd to give you energy to be the determining factor."
@Mandarin_hs_fb has made the state semi-finals for the first time. Coach Bobby Randall wants his guys to approach it with a “business as usual” mindset. They are expecting a big crowd Friday, including several former NFL players who are Mandarin alums. @wjxt4 pic.twitter.com/SqbTaEVLLs— Cole Pepper (@ColePepper) November 28, 2018
With Beck, an Alabama signee, at the helm, the offense has been good for the Mustangs this year, but the the defense has been the difference maker. In three playoff games, the Mustangs have given up just 15 points. Their success to this point in the playoffs was a goal before the season began, and now, they are one win away from playing for a state championship.
"Even before the season started during workouts, we were putting our minds together and we knew that we could do this this season," defensive tackle Nick Harris said. "I want to get another win and go to state."