In 12 minutes on Friday night, Dreher went from Region 4-3A title contender to scrapping for third place, but the Blue Devils have not lost heart.
“We’re excited that we’re 7-2, but we’re not satisfied,” third-year coach Josh Stepp said.
In a season that began with a five-game winning streak for the Blue Devils, Dreher had hoped to win its first region title in more than a decade.
“One of the first goals we had for the season was to win region, and we had an opportunity to be playing for that this week,” Stepp said. “But the biggest goal is to win the state title, and we can still get in the playoffs and make a run.”
Leading rusher Donovan Ward said the Blue Devils have not lost a step.
“We’ve been working real hard all through the summer and we still feel that we can beat anybody if we focus and do the right things. So we still feel like we can win state,” Ward said.
Though the Blue Devils will have to start their run on the road — their highest possible finish in the region is third, regardless of the outcome of this week’s match with rival and region champion A.C. Flora — senior lineman Keito Jordan said the squad is as driven as ever.
“Thanks to our coaches, who gave us a lot of confidence to start this season and put us in the right positions, this season’s been great,” Jordan said. “It was awesome to start out five in a row. It gave us extra fire, because when you start out like that, you don’t expect to lose, you don’t want to lose.
“But after those first five games, those games didn’t matter anymore. I feel like we have a great chance, and a great team, and just to have a chance at this point is all we asked for,” said Jordan, who leads the team with 10 sacks.
Stepp said the key to the Blue Devils’ strong performance has been teamwork.
“The best thing is every win we’ve had has been truly a team win. We’ve been able to complement each other,” Stepp said.
While the Blue Devils, led by Hakim Frazier and Donovan Ward on offense, have posted an average 369 yards, their defense has held opponents to 248.5 yards per game. And they have outscored opponents 263-147, a statistic that suffered with their three-point loss last week.
But Dreher is determined to bounce back.
“They’re not lacking in motivation,” Stepp said. “These guys are hungry. They’ve had a taste of success and they like it. They don’t want it to go away.”
Stepp had anticipated that his team would feed off success, and it is why he knows the Blue Devils’ season is far from over.
“If you can get into the playoffs, anything can happen,” he said. “They know we’ve got a chance to play a lot more football.”