By Nathan Fry | Eastside Contributor
Ahead of Eastside’s first round playoff game against Westwood, Coach Andre Woolcock sat down with Overtime SC’s Eastside contributor, Nathan Fry to discuss the upcoming game, as well as the ending of the regular season.
NF: “You’re facing the first round of the postseason right after the largest and closest loss of your regular season campaign. How do you move forward and what is the message to your team?”
AW: “Let the tough times develop character. There is no such thing as growth without pain. That was a tough loss but we’ll grow from it moving forward. Hats off to Coach Ford and his staff at Greenville, that’s a well deserved region title for their program. That game hurt, all of us took that hard. We all wanted to win that one. Not only to win the region, but to go into the playoffs with a full head of steam, with a high level of confidence. Greenville did a great job though and 24-17 is a one score game. It was a really close game. The message here is definitely to let the pain help you grow.”
NF: You’ve been on a three game road streak, but now you’ve capped that off and are hosting the first round of the playoffs. How will coming back home affect your team and what will that do for your confidence?
AW: “Anytime we’re at home it gives us an atmosphere that we’re used to. There’s no place like home! Whenever you’re able to be at home it helps you to be comfortable and confident, regardless of the situation. But Westwood is a really good football team so we better come ready to play. We better have a good week of practice if we want to move on in the playoffs.”
NF: “A big part of the playoffs is tunnel vision- keeping your eyes on the game right in front of you. There’s a potential matchup with Daniel in the next round that a lot of people are talking about. How do you keep your team focused on the team they’re playing this week and make sure that they’re locked in?”
AW: “They better not look ahead to Daniel, because you have to worry about Westwood first! I don’t think we’re gonna have that problem here because of our group of seniors who have been in the playoffs a few times, and they know that one loss finishes your season. Those guys aren’t ready to turn in their equipment just yet. They’re gonna be focused and I’m not worried about them looking ahead of Westwood because of the leadership that this team has.”
NF: Your offense was shut down at times last week, but picked up towards the end of the game. How do you feel about the unit heading into the playoffs, as they’ve been one of your most consistent all year?
AW: “Regardless of what you do in life there will be a hiccup. Last week was that hiccup. I have all the confidence and belief in the world in what our offense can do and in our offensive staff, they’ll get it done. Coach Hoffman is his own biggest critic, so if he feels like they didn’t do a good enough job, he’ll work extra hard to make sure the unit performs well next week. You know the saying “don’t wake the sleeping lion?” Well Greenville woke the sleeping lion. I’m definitely excited to see how we play this week.”
NF: Your defense has forced tons of turnovers this year, including multiple last week. What’s your philosophy behind that and how have you created so many opportunities on the defensive side of the ball this season?
AW: “Coach Ford preaches it all the time: “Get the ball, get the ball, get the ball!” We have a really good defensive staff that has been operating well and that’s been the core of this season on that side of the ball. Our guys take pride in forcing turnovers, so when you have guys who look forward to taking the ball away from their opponents that much, that’s something they’re going to try extra hard to do every Friday night.”
NF: If you could describe your season in one word, what would that word be?
AW: “Blessing. It’s a blessing any time you have an opportunity to come out and play ball or in my case, coach ball. You have positives and negatives but there is always a blessing in the storm. We experienced a storm last week but we gotta see what blessing comes out of it. I’m excited to get back out there. After a loss the best thing you can do is get back out there and get after it.”
NF: Looking at how well this season has gone for a program with a first year head coach, one that wasn’t predicted to win near eight games, let alone play for a region title, how are you feeling about your performance heading into the postseason?
AW: “I’m humbled by it. When you’re in a position where no one gives you a chance, it’s huge to achieve success. I allow my faith to carry me in all parts of my life. When you achieve success like this, it’s humbling. I’m thankful for every game we get to play this year. I can’t ask for anything else than where I’m at. I’m blessed. I’m smiling right now just thinking about it, it’s cool to be in this position.”
NF: As a closing statement, what do you have to say about this matchup?
AW: “They have a lot of good athletes on both sides of the ball, a lot of high motor guys. They’re a very good football team and we need to come ready to play. We better come into this game focused, dialed in, and ready to come after it this Friday.”
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