COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The OHSAA football playoffs get underway this week, and it’s a postseason unlike any we’ve seen before.
All 709 teams are eligible, with 664 choosing to participate – and some of those teams haven’t been in the postseason in their players’ lifetimes.
One such program is Briggs High School.
“It’s been 30 years since Briggs High School has been in a playoff game,” said head coach Harold Bates. “So we are really, really excited about what’s going to happen on Friday.”
Bates added there is definitely an energy around his team this week.
The Bruins will face Teays Valley in the first round on Friday, and Bates said this postseason is a nice reward for these high school players who have worked hard on the field, but also off of it to stay healthy and safe in order to make this season a possibility.
“That’s where OHSAA, Columbus City Schools, combined to provide some incentives for these kids, and we’re seeing kids now who otherwise wouldn’t have had an opportunity to play,” Bates said.
“I’m very excited that actually I get to play,” said Briggs senior Monty Peterson. “There was one point we had a three-week break and we didn’t think we were going to have a season.”
For Briggs, this playoff game could also be an important stepping stone for the program. Bates and his staff are trying to turn around a program that’s been lacking wins for years.
This season, the Bruins went 2-1 in regular season games, and now, these players don’t want to just show up and play the team’s first playoff game in three decades: they want to win.
“This program hasn’t been that good for so many years, so they basically counted us out and in the first game we played, we came together and showed them we can do it,” Peterson said. “This year, yeah, we worked for it, but now we’ve actually got a chance to win this game and make history.”
“This game could propel us to a whole other realm of success, which is why we’re excited about it,” Bates said. “We have a great, great opportunity and this is what we’re stressing to the kids. It’s not just an ordinary football game. This is a great opportunity and that parallels life: when you get those great opportunities, you really do try to take advantage of it.”
Bates and his staff have already scheduled a game for the week after their first playoff game just in case they don’t beat Teays Valley. Then, near the end of the month, there’s the Columbus City League tournament and a chance for a true Columbus city champion.
“That’s a direct result of our coaches here in the city. We were united, we had a plan for six complete games and a City League playoff,” Bates said. “I’m an 80’s kid, so when I was in high school, I graduated from South High School, and then you did have the north division playing the south division for a true City League championship. So it’s great to revive that.”
“It’s really cool! I feel like we could take it, we could take it home,” Peterson said. “We just gotta put our mind to it.”