It doesn't matter which obstacles fall in the Irmo High football team's path this season.
The resilient Yellow Jackets found a way to clear every one. The result is one of the state's best seasons thus far.
Neither an early season loss, nor a difficult schedule nor late-season injuries and illness have kept Irmo (11-1) from carrying a 10-game winning streak into Friday's Class 4A Division I second-round game against Dorman.
"I think any time you get smacked with adversity you either get better or get worse," Irmo coach Bob Hanna said. "The leaders that we've got on this football team chose to get better. They've gotten better all year."
The favorite to win Region 5-4A entering this season, Irmo easily won its season-opening game 48-20 over Ridge View.
The following week, on Sept. 4, Irmo lost 19-14 at Fort Dorchester.
It made for a long bus ride home from the Lowcountry. But the Yellow Jackets didn't let the loss slow them down. Instead, it inspired them.
"I think we lost focus that week," Irmo senior quarterback David Olson said. "Losing was the most terrible feeling in the world. None of us want to do that again."
The coaches saw that attitude put into action during practices as the Yellow Jackets seemed more determined following that loss.
"Even against teams that we felt we were better than," Hanna said, "the kids came and worked and got better as a football team."
Irmo couldn't afford to slip up again. The week after losing at Fort Dorchester, Irmo welcomed Summerville to W.C. Hawkins Stadium. The Yellow Jackets handed Summerville its only loss of the season, a 42-35 decision. A week later, Irmo blasted a Spring Valley team that had won two of its first three games 49-15. The sprint toward the playoffs was on.
"This group of kids, it amazed me," Hanna said. "We've probably got eight or nine seniors that have a 4.0 or better. They do a good job in the classroom and obviously it's going to translate out here. We're able to do a lot of things with this group, on both sides of the ball, that we've had trouble doing in year past. I don't want to say we haven't had the intelligence. But these kids can focus under pressure. When you can do that, you can do a lot."
They have even overcome personnel shuffles.
A high ankle sprain has limited Shrine Bowl running back Mustafa Greene (1,284 yards, 18 touchdowns) for most of the season's second half. Reserve Dawan Scott stepped in admirably for Greene and has rushed for 888 yards with 12 touchdowns.
Olson, a first-year starter, teamed with a talented receiving corps to give Irmo a diversified offense. Olson has completed 96 of 184 passes (52 percent) for 1,662 yards with 18 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Receivers David Frazier (38 catches, 695 yards, eight touchdowns), Paris Richardson (23 catches, 413 yards) and Tequan Scott (168 yards) are his top targets.
But last week against Hillcrest, another adjustment had to be made as Greene (ankle), Dawan Scott (knee), David Frazier (ankle) and Tequan Scott (flu) were all sidelined. Left tackle Randy Wiley (knee) was injured during the game.
So the Yellow Jackets turned to their defense to fuel a 28-0 first-round playoff win.
"The defense had to step it up and we shut them out," said senior linebacker Jordan Kirvan, Irmo's tackles leader with 158. "It was our best game all year. We're hoping to do that again this week."
Even though all Irmo's injured offensive players practiced this week and are hoping to play Friday night, the Yellow Jackets know their best effort is needed to beat Dorman (11-1).
"They realized Friday night that we didn't have all the pieces in place and it was going to be a struggle," Hanna said. "They stepped up and played their best game of the year. They were not going to let us lose that game.
"They are going to have to step up Friday night against a (Dorman) offense that has weapons all over the field. We don't expect to shut them out. But we expect it to be a dogfight. Our kids will bow their necks and do what they have to do to win."