After another tough road win, the University of West Georgia Wolves clinched a playoff berth, and for the first time since 2000, they will play post-season football.
This playoff berth may be a surprise, because for the past 14 seasons the Wolves have not been able to place themselves among the top teams in the Division II rankings. Even with the odds of having a new coaching staff stacked against this team, they were still able to excel and exceed expectations.
Halfway through the season, the Wolves’ playoff chances were high, as the team sprinted off to a 5-1 start in their first six games. Their first loss came on the road against a sliding Valdosta State Blazers team, who routed the Wolves 40-6.
The Wolves felt the pressure of rebounding and responded well to the challenge of defeating division rival, Delta State University, a team they may see again.
The Wolves finished 3-1 in the next four games, with their lone loss in a close game against the surging University of North Alabama Lions.
Heading into the season’s final game, the Wolves were not sure what the future would hold with regards to their playoff chances. A trip to Rome, Ga. to play Shorter University became the Wolves’ rally towards participating in the post-season.
The Wolves wrestled the win away from Shorter in a grinding fashion. Wolves’ running back Seth Hinsley, led the team in rushing behind 34 attempts he accumulated 209 yards on the ground.
This win feels familiar to fans that have been watching the team this year. The team has a habit of running the ball well and playing solid defense. Not allowing your opponents to score and controlling the clock creates the opportunity to succeed, especially in playoff football.
After claiming their position in the playoffs, one week later the Wolves will travel to Tuskegee, Ala. to play against Tuskegee University.
Tuskegee University, like the Wolves, went 9-2 in the regular season, with one loss at their home stadium. The Wolves will face an uphill battle as they will need to stop the powerful running game that the Golden Tigers rely on so heavily.
But if there is one thing that the Wolves have in their favor heading into this game, it is in their ability to stop their opponents from rushing effectively. This season the Wolves allowed an average of 147 rushing yards per game; they also ranked second in total defense in the Gulf South Conference.
Should the Wolves come back to Carrollton victorious, they will move deeper into the tournament to face Delta State University in the next round of the playoffs.
Seeing a team that is familiar is a relief at this stage in the season. It minimizes the amount of changes coaches need to make in preparation, and allows the players to play with more confidence. The Wolves will look to make a run toward seeing Delta State University again when they play at the Tuskegee Golden Tigers.