Raider coach Randell Owens may have experienced more painful losses, but perhaps not one handed down in a more sobering fashion.
Heritage broke a 57-yard touchdown with 27 seconds left last week to win 21-20 over Madison County (5-3). The Raiders had just scored 13 seconds earlier to take the lead.
“I don’t know that I’ve had one that was more shocking,” Owens said.
Madison County gets two weeks to think about it and heal. The Raiders have an off week this Friday and return to the field Oct. 30 against no. 7 Apalachee (7-0).
Owens gave his coaches Sunday off and his players Monday off. He’ll also allow coaches extra time to catch up things this week as the program tries to recharge.
Owens and company will then scout Apalachee’s game with Heritage Friday night.
The challenge for Madison County now is to focus on winning its final two games and not reliving what could have been in the down-to-the wire loss to Heritage, Owens said.
“It hurt, but it’s going be (a matter of) maturity and senior leadership and whether our kids can move on,” he said.
Because two wins and a 7-3 record would very likely earn Madison County for a state playoff spot.
Of course, that’s a tall order.
Those two wins would have to come over the region’s top two teams in the standings, Apalachee and Clarke Central. Still, everything is out there for the taking.
“If we win the next two games, we can go to the state playoffs,” Owen said. “That’s the way we’re approaching it.”
There’s a slight chance that a 6-4 record could get Madison County to the postseason, but that would likely bring a complicated scenario of tiebreakers into play. Owens would just as soon avoid all that and win the last two, starting next Friday.
This year’s Raiders still have everything to play for, he said.
“Our goals are still within reach,” Owens said. “It’s still out there. How hard can we work? Can we block out the naysayers who are already digging our grave and building our casket?”