KINGMAN – The Kingman Academy football team has no room for error.
In order to have a shot at making the playoffs, the 19th-ranked Tigers have to win tonight when they host No. 25-ranked Paradise Honors at Southside Park.
“I think it magnifies it more that you have to get it done – you have to win it to be able to have a shot at being the region champ,” said Academy head coach Dan Stroup. “Without the victory, you have no hope. Even though you need some help and Tonopah has to get beat in one of these last two weeks of the season. If you don’t take care of business, you know your season is one game away from being done.”
The Tigers (5-3, 3-1 2A Central) are still in in first place, but only by virtue of playing one more region contest than second place Tonopah Valley and Paradise Honors (3-4, 2-1).
The two teams will play each other in the regular-season finale and that might decide whether the Academy can win the region and make playoffs.
With all of that said, the Tigers can’t worry about what they can’t control and are focused on taking care of business against Paradise Honors. Last season the Academy lost 61-15 on the road, but Stroup said this is a different Panthers team.
“They have a big line, but they’re much younger,” Stroup said. “… They have a big fullback in (Nathaniel Smith). He’s only a sophomore, but he runs pretty hard.”
Paradise Honors is coming off a 34-21 loss to Bourgade Catholic last week, but crushed Sedona Red Rock 60-14 the week before.
One area that Stroup pinpointed was the defense, as he is unsure if the Panthers will continue to do what they’ve done all season or switch it up.
“We’ll see what they do in the secondary,” Stroup said. “They’ve been playing everybody man-to-man – up in your face. I’m sure if they do that type of style of defense, we’ll find a favorable matchup for our guys.”
Luckily for the Academy, it’s back to full strength after missing two key players during last week’s loss at Tonopah Valley.
“Kekoa (Makaiwi-Stroup) and Harlee Roberts are back,” coach Stroup said. “The only person that will not be playing due to injury is Kannon Butler. He won’t be able to play this week, but he’s improving daily.”