CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As a high school football coach, sometimes you have to be part strategist and part psychologist.
Witness the plight of Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor and Capital coach Jon Carpenter as their teams get set to collide at 7:30 tonight at Laidley Field in the opening round of the Class AAA playoffs.
For different reasons, both coaches want their players to forget the teams' last meeting, which came just two weeks ago - also at Laidley - with the Cougars putting a 39-8 beatdown on the Redskins.
Taylor wants his team to realize that it's capable of knocking off the No. 3 seed Cougars (9-1) - heck, Hurricane beat Capital each of the two previous seasons - while Carpenter wants his players to realize that they should just forget about that last meeting entirely and concentrate on the present.
"You're a psychologist when you're a football coach,'' Taylor said of the No. 14 seed Redskins (6-4), "and they have to understand we are a good football team. We've got a good senior class. We've got a really good quarterback. We've just got to finish.
"Look at the four losses. Everyone we've lost to is hosting a playoff game. We're not terrible. We're kind of unlucky. If we make a play here or there against GW [a 60-54 loss], we win that game and now we're 7-3, and now maybe we're playing [an easier opponent]. It's the luck of the draw sometimes, but you've got to earn that to play those teams.
"So now we'll just play the state playoffs in reverse - we'll play the best teams and work our way out instead of playing a lower-seeded team. We're much better than a 14 seed but we didn't get the job done in the regular season, so we're right where we need to be. I don't like excuses. Life's not fair, but the important thing is we still have a chance on Friday.''
Carpenter, meanwhile, wants his team to suffer short-term memory loss as well, but for different reasons.
"I think they've done a good job of that all year, really,'' Carpenter said, "of being excited to play and not worrying about who did what last year or two weeks ago. I think that doesn't matter.