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Spain Park Football
Spain Park's Damarius Farmer (11) in a game between Spain Park and Thompson on Thursday, October 6, 2016, at Larry Simmons Stadium in Alabaster, Alabama.
The formula for Spain Park High School is simple: win the next two games, and the Jaguars are in the playoffs.
While the Jags (5-2, 3-2 Class 7A, Region 3) likely will be in the playoffs with just one win in the next two weeks, there is still a chance for chaos to ensue depending on how records shake out.
So, the first step in that two-part challenge is a game at Jaguar Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m. against Tuscaloosa County. The Wildcats (2-6, 0-5) are led by first-year head coach Bart Sessions, who spent the last two years as Spain Park’s defensive coordinator.
If the Jags play up to their capabilities, the result should be a victory.
The Jags will also look to see if last week’s comeback win over Thompson will prove as a springboard for the rest of the season. After trailing 14-7 at halftime, Spain Park threw an interception on its opening possession of the third quarter, setting Thompson up at the 7-yard line with a chance to put a stranglehold on the game.
Damarius Farmer stepped in, literally. He jumped in front of a pass to the end zone and hauled in the interception. It was his chance to run the 100-yard dash in front of several thousand people.
97 yards later, he found the opposite end zone, bringing the score to an even 14-14.
“I was thinking I had to fight, I had to make a play for my team,” Farmer said. “I did not want to lose this game.”
Cole Starr booted the eventual game-winning field goal on the next Jag possession, and Spain Park held on.
“If the kids will keep playing, you’ve always got a chance,” head coach Shawn Raney said. “When things get bleak, if you’re not mentally prepared for that, that’s when teams fold. To keep preaching that and something like that happen, as a coach, that’s a great moment.”
Raney said that Farmer’s interceptions could be “one of those moments” that propels a team to a strong end of the season. Spain Park can point to multiple instances like that from last season’s state championship appearance, but that may have been the first one of the 2016 campaign that has the potential to turn the tide.
If Spain Park continues to take care of business, the Jags will have the opportunity for more moments come playoff time.
“Our playoffs started last week,” Raney said following the Thompson game. “If we lose any games, now we’re wishing this happens or hoping this happens. We just got to win out and take care of business. We started out needing four and now we need two.”