MINCO — Just call the Afton Eagles “the road warriors.”
For the seventh time this season, they have to load up the bus to face an opponent on the road.
This time, they’re traveling to Minco for a Class A quarterfinal game Friday, Nov. 25.
“This will be Road Game No. 7 for us this year so it’s not anything we haven’t done. We had to play at Rejoice on the road and play at Hulbert. We found a way to get it done.”
This will be the 12th game of the season for the top-ranked and unbeaten Eagles.
Two of the five home games have come the last two weeks, where they beat Savanna 48-7 in the first round and Cashion 40-14 last week.
The only other home games were against Barnsdall, Fairland and Foyil.
“We have to come out with the right mentality,” Gardner said. “We have stumbled a couple of games this year as far as mentality and our approach. We need to come out, play fast and play physical like we are capable of instead of sitting around and see how good our opponent is, evaluate them before we decide how hard we are going to play.”
Afton trailed Cashion 14-6 at the half, the first time that’s happened all season.
But the Eagles scored on five straight possessions in the third and fourth quarters to claim the 26-point win.
“We played from behind well, but I would rather play from ahead just like anybody else would,” Gardner said. “We showed some character. We showed what we can do when our minds are right. Why don’t we do it from the start?”
Minco advanced with a 20-14 win against Fairview last Friday, coming back from a 14-7 third-quarter deficit.
The Bulldogs’ only loss was to 2A No. 4 Chisholm.
It’s a program of consistency, winning at least one playoff game every year since 2013.
Minco also has won at least eight games over that span.
The Eagles notched a 23-20 victory in a quarterfinal clash with Minco last season.
Amos scored on a 1-yard run and added the two-point conversion run with 1:53 left in the third quarter to give Afton a 23-20 lead.
The Bulldogs had a chance tie or take the lead midway through the fourth quarter when they reached the Afton 2-yard line.
Instead of attempting a 19-yard field goal, Minco went for broke on a fourth-and-5 situation.
However quarterback Shannon Williams was stopped short of the end zone, ending the Bulldogs’ scoring chance and their season.
“They don’t have those guys that can go 80 like last year,” Gardner said. “Everybody is back up front for the most part. Defensively, they may be the best we’ve seen. Our work is cut out for us.”