When the clock ran down at Alex's football field on Friday night, the players, coaches and fans experienced something that hasn't happened for the better part of a decade.
For the first time since 2004, the Longhorns were on the winning end of a playoff result in their 60-14 drubbing of Ringwood. Few would have expected Alex, now 11-0 in 2013, to lose the game, but that didn't make the feeling of getting past the first round any less satisfying.
"I knew this was going to be a close game," head coach Matt Brand said. "These guys have never won a playoff game for Alex, so they were a little nervous heading into the game. I just told them at halftime to calm down and play their game, and we came out with 38 unanswered points. It gets that monkey off our back."
While the defense clearly did its job by holding the opposition to just two touchdowns, the Alex offense scaled new heights against a Ringwood team that seemed to grow more helpless as the game wore on. Running back Kyle Thornburg was almost unstoppable with 190 yards off just six carries. Senior Jose Ochoa was just as prolific with 195 yards off 16 carries.
Sophomore Dalton Alcorn had one of his best games at quarterback, completing 10 of 14 passes for 200 yards and four touchdowns. For a run-oriented team like Alex, this is perhaps the most dangerous statistic for any future opponent. The Longhorns have unveiled a brand new weapon at just the right time.
"It makes me feel better knowing we have the ability to air it out," Brand said. "I think we're still a 70 percent running team, but I think it balances out our offense."
None of this would be possible, however, without an offensive line Brand says is the key to their success.
"It all comes down to the offensive line; those guys are stars," Brand said. "The offensive line may not be the biggest, but they are technicians."
The Longhorns will now hope to take that attacking momentum into the second round game this Friday against Davenport. Past the ninth ranked team, the opponents will only get more difficult, but Brand said he is confident they have the talent to go the distance.
"I feel like we are one of the fees teams that can win it all," Brand said. "That being said, we can't walk into this week's game just expecting to win. When playoffs come around, you've got to attack."