Desperation might be too harsh a word, but one team or the other will be decidedly downcast Friday night at the conclusion of the Hurricane at George Washington game.
Reason? A team that was highly thought of in the preseason will be staring at a 2-2 record with several tough games still remaining on its schedule.
GW made it to the Class AAA state finals last season and began this year with a 26-game regular-season win streak. The Redskins have reached the playoff quarterfinals each of the past two seasons.
However, the loser will have a lot of ground to make up in the SSAC playoff rankings after the Patriots (2-1) and Redskins (2-1) tangle at 7:30 Friday at Steve Edwards Sr. Field in South Hills. As it is, they are currently tied for 12th in the ratings, with the top 16 qualifying for the postseason.
"I heard someone the other day said it was a must-win for either team,'' said Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor. "No, it's really not. We're going to try to win the game, but if something happens and it doesn't go well, we've still got six more games, and they're all winnable.
"We don't go into any game saying, 'Lord, they're so much better than us. We'll not be able to pull this one out.' At the beginning of the season, you never say, 'We won't win that game or this game because they're so much better than us.' If you coach that way, you'd better get out of it. I know Steve Edwards [Jr., GW's coach] doesn't think that way.''
Taylor pointed to GW's decision to play Ashland Paul Blazer (Ky.) and St. Francis de Sales (Ohio) this season.
"They play those teams,'' Taylor said, "and they're not going to say, 'Oh, no, we've got to play Hurricane, we've got to play Capital.' They've got a great team at GW and they don't worry about that. You play each game individually, and you go in thinking you're going to win. You've got to think that way.''
After GW, Hurricane still has games left with co-No. 6 Capital (2-0), No. 10 Logan (3-0) and No. 1 Cabell Midland (3-0).