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Hornets hoping to stun Chiefs
[November 16, 2012]

Hornets hoping to stun Chiefs

Nov 16, 2012 (Jackson County Floridan - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The Cottondale Hornets will try to extend their season Friday night when they make the trip to Bratt to take on the powerful Northview Chiefs in the first round of the 1A state playoffs.

Cottondale (4-5) comes into the game as the runner-up in District 2, while Northview (7-3) is the champion of District 1.

The Hornets are coming off of consecutive losses to Graceville and Bozeman, with the Chiefs losing 41-28 to West Florida last week in a game that broke up a four-game winning streak.

The Chiefs go into this year's playoffs looking for redemption after falling 25-21 to Chipley in last year's state semifinals.

They've had the look of a championship favorite this season, losing only to 5A teams West Florida and Gulf Breeze and falling to 4A Marianna in overtime.

"They were predicted to (make a run at state) for a reason. They're real good," Cottondale coach Mike Melvin said Thursday of the Chiefs. "They're good in all facets of the game: offense, defense, and special teams, and they're 55-deep. They throw a lot of stuff at you, a lot of formations. And they've got a lot of good players." Perhaps the best among them is 6-foot senior safety/wide receiver Neiko Robinson, who is one of the best athletes in the state and one of the hardest hitters in high school football.

But there's much more to the Chiefs than one great player, and Melvin said his team will have its hands full from the start.

"They're one of the top three teams predicted to come out of the North side, but that's why you play the games," the coach said. "We'll step up to the challenge and take our chances. We've had a good week. The kids are a lot more focused than they were last week. It's one and done from here on out. If you want to keep playing, you've got to win." In order to have a chance to pull the upset, the Hornets will have to play a near flawless game and will certainly have to play a turnover-free game, which has been a challenge for CHS in its losses this year.

"The main thing we've talked about it is if we don't make mistakes and turn the ball over, we're competitive," Melvin said. "If we do, then we're not very good. You can't make those mistakes at this point in the season. Any mistake is going to cost you because the competition gets better and better at this point.

"(The Chiefs) are not going to make a lot of mistakes, but if they make one, we have to capitalize on it, and we can't give them extra opportunities." While the odds of a victory may be long, the very fact that the Hornets are still playing football after a 1-9 season in 2011 is a victory in itself.

"It's very exciting to know that half the teams in Florida have already put their equipment up and we still have the opportunity to keep practicing and play a game," Melvin said. "That's been great. We just want to play well and leave it all on the field, especially for the seniors. They don't want to walk off thinking about what they could've or should've done different." ___ (c)2012 the Jackson County Floridan (Marianna, Fla.) Visit the Jackson County Floridan (Marianna, Fla.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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