By JOEL COLEMAN
ACKERMAN – It remains to be seen if Ackerman’s defense can lead to a championship, but it certainly has helped buy the Indians at least one more week of play.
Hosting O’Bannon in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs on Friday, Ackerman kept the Green Wave off the scoreboard to win 21-0.
The victory allows the Indians to host a second-round game next week against Broad Street, who topped Baldwyn 22-14 on Friday.
Ackerman head coach Adam Dillinger saw positives and negatives out of his Region 2-2A champion Indians as they topped O’Bannon to stay alive in the postseason, but in the end Dillinger said he’s just proud his team can continue on with the season.
“We left some opportunities out on the field, but we win, survive and advance,” said Dillinger. “I don’t think we played our best game by far, but we won and just have to move on, get better and play better next week.”
Offensively, Ackerman (9-3) rode a two-touchdown rushing effort from running back K.J. Woods and quarterback Dakota Brasher’s 172 passing yards to its seventh-straight win.
Woods, who finished with 96 total yards on the ground, got the Indians going early in the first quarter with a 2-yard scoring run that capped off an eight-play, 70-yard drive on the opening possession of the game.
O’Bannon (5-7), the Region 4-2A No. 4 seed, was forced to punt on its ensuing possession, trapping Ackerman back at its own 2-yard line.
The poor field position didn’t bother the Indians.
Ackerman drove nearly the entire length of the field, doubling its lead to 14-0 by the time the possession concluded on a 62-yard touchdown pass from Brasher to Quinton Lane early in the second quarter.
Ackerman defensive end Dylan Bagwell said the two early touchdowns and the two-score lead was huge in a playoff environment.
“I think it helped us out a lot,” said Bagwell. “It got the momentum up for us and let us settle in.”
According to Dillinger, Ackerman may have gotten a little too comfortable at times defensively.
Even while in the process of posting the shutout, Dillinger said his club missed some chances to cut several Green Wave drives short.
“We think they had too many first downs and chances to score,” said Dillinger. “They had a couple of touchdowns called back on penalties. Now I think they committed them and that probably allowed them to break them, but still we’ve got to play a lot cleaner than that. That’s not as well as we can play.”
Despite any inconsistencies, Ackerman put the game away early in the fourth quarter.
Starting on the O’Bannon 47-yard line, the Indians used five plays to get in the end zone and cap the night’s scoring courtesy of a 4-yard touchdown run by Woods.
When the game clock expired moments later, Ackerman had avoided any type of letdown, something that Dillinger had been warning his club about all week.
“I told them again before the game that somewhere there’s going to be a No. 4 that beats a No. 1, so you’ve got to go play regardless,” said Dillinger. “You can’t worry about the seeding because you all can be eliminated just the same.”
On this night, Ackerman remained alive.
The Indians hope they can say the same after next week’s game against Broad Street.
“We’re going to come out and get better in practice next week,” said Bagwell. “We’re going to do what it takes to keep moving on.”