In such a short high school football season, every divisional game carries significant meaning. One loss can make it substantially more difficult to qualify for sectional play — especially in Class B North, where only four of nine teams advance.
But this week, the significance is heightened even more. Medina and Albion enter Week 6 with matching 2-2 records in Class B North, tied for third place with Bennett and Lew-Port. Albion travels to face Lew-Port tonight, while Medina plays Bennett at All High Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
As the coaches would tell you, playoff football doesn't begin at the end of the regular season. It begins now, as was discussed at Albion's weekly team meeting on Monday.
"At the meeting this week, the message was that from here until the end, we're going to treat this like playoff football," Albion head coach Tony Osburn said. "With our execution, our intensity, and our tone, everything needs to look and sound like playoff football."
Albion is riding a two-game winning streak into tonight's matchup with Lew-Port, having defeated Newfane and Maryvale the last two weeks by sizable margins. The Purple Eagles had preceded this streak with consecutive losses to Burgard and Cheektowaga, the division's top two teams.
After falling in a lopsided home defeat to Burgard, the Purple Eagles fell behind quickly at Cheektowaga but battled back in the second half to keep the score respectable, 34-20. Osburn said the team turned a corner in that second half — a perspective that has been backed up by the results since.
"Against Burgard, we did the little things wrong, and we played the worst game we possibly could have played," Osburn said. "But in the second half against Cheektowaga, we started moving the ball and executing on offense, and the other phases followed suit. It was a long bus ride home, but we were excited with the way we played, and we carried the momentum to practice."