The Mansfield football team is preparing like it's any other week.
The Tigers are practicing like it's any other week and they're even talking like it's any other week. “We have to play our game,” one player said.
“Just stay focused on the task at hand,” head coach Daniel Maberry said.
This is not any other week.
“It’ll feel a little weird cause that was my coach at one point,” Mansfield wide receiver Jackson Gleason said.
For the first time in two years, Jeff Hulme will be on the field with them. Only this time, he’ll be against them.
"It's a little different just ‘cause I know some of the guys, but I'm not out there playing, the coaches at Mansfield aren't out there playing,” Hulme said.
Mansfield will face its old head coach, Hulme, Friday in the regional round. Even though Hulme has been gone two years, he’s still kind of a legend around Mansfield.
In his first year with the Tigers, the team won a playoff game for the first time. In his final year, they went further in the playoffs than they’ve ever gone before.
Needless to say, Mansfield wouldn’t be where it’s at without the man they will now try to beat.
“I learned a lot from coach Hulme,” Maberry said. “He was a mentor to me, and I owe a large part of where I’m at today because of him.”
To beat him, the Tigers will have to contend with an even better Jeff Hulme.
At Midway, Hulme has done things he never did in Mansfield: an undefeated regular season and the highest recruit he’s ever coached, future Oklahoma quarterback Tanner Mordecai.
Clearly, Mansfield would want to beat its old coach. Nonetheless, both sides are just sticking to the script.
“We can’t really look at it that way as just playing him,” Mansfield safety Corbin Frederick said. “It’s another team.”
“I’ve just got to look at it as another team, another defense to play against,” Gleason added.
“Mansfield is in front of us and we've got to get rid of them in step three so we can get to step four,” Hulme said.
But most importantly, step one: it’s just another game.