Coming off a close win in the first round of the VHSL football playoffs, the Monticello Mustangs are even more focused heading into their second round matchup at Northside on Friday.
"To have it that close and just almost slip away like it happened last year, I do not like close games," said senior defensive tackle Sean Means. "But I am kind of happy that it gives us a set-up point so that we know that all these teams are not going to be pushovers, that they're going to come out hard and we have to come out the same way."
Last Friday, the sixth-seeded Mustangs came away with a 35-28 win at home over the No. 11 seed, Rustburg, in a game that was close throughout.
"I think it was better for us to have that close game in the first round of the playoffs," said senior running back T.J. Tillery. "It was almost like a wake-up call for us, showing that just because it's the first round, just because they're a lower seed doesn't mean anything."
The Mustangs are 10-1 this season, with their only loss coming at home to Albemarle on Oct. 25. Monticello is still unbeaten on the road this season, and they'll put that to the test when they visit Northside in the second round of the 3A West playoffs. Even though they'll miss having home field advantage, they say that being on the road also has it's own advantages.
"When we're here at home, there's a lot of downtime and a lot of distractions," said head coach Jeff Woody. "But when we're on that bus and sitting in that seat, we're hopefully visualizing the type of game that we want to play, visualizing success. So in that case, I like a road game."
"I think playing on the road is really nice," adds Tillery. "I love playing at home, but when you have that little x-factor of being away, and it's just like they don't want you to win, they don't want you to be there, they don't think you should be there. It's just really nice because you're like, 'well we should be here, we're here to win, we're here to play.'"