The Timberland Wolves were off last Friday night, and head football coach Art Craig says the bye week couldn't have come at a better time.
Two weeks ago, Timberland stunned Berkeley, 24-21, for one of the biggest victories in school history. Craig's team spent a lot of emotion and energy to beat the Stags for the first time in school history and keep its record perfect at 4-0.
"For us, it's probably good that we were off," Craig said. "I don't know how good we would have been after that."
Injuries took a toll on the Wolves in the first month of the season. The team played with eight sophomores in the starting lineup in some games, and that meant some youthful mistakes. It also means experience down the road as the Wolves aim for the Region 7-AA championship.
The victory over the Stags, who won the Division II-AAAA state title last year, proved the Wolves are a serious contender for the Class AA state title. It also keeps their regular season mastery intact. Timberland has not lost a regular season game in three years, compiling a 30-0 record. The last time the Wolves lost in the regular season was Sept. 7, 2007, a 43-28 loss to Berkeley.
"I think our kids took the game plan and ran with it," said Craig, who has a 51-7 record the last five years at the helm of the program. "You could see it in their eyes. They knew they had a chance, believed in themselves and accomplished the mission."
Timberland begins a stretch of three road games with a trip to C.E. Murray tonight. The Wolves then travel to Andrews and Manning before returning home for an Oct. 15 game against Lake City.
The offense averages 23.2 points per game and gets starting quarterback Unieek Gourdine back tonight. He's been sidelined since breaking his collarbone in the final scrimmage in August. Taylor Elizonado fared well as his replacement.
Offensive lineman Bobby McNeil and running back Classe Thompson are back to 100 percent after suffering high ankle sprains.
The Wolves' trademark during Craig's tenure has been defense, and this year has been no exception as opponents are averaging just 13.5 points per game. Timberland has only two seniors starting on defense.
Mike Wilson is solid in his second year at linebacker while Adam June, a linebacker and running back, is second on the team in tackles and has 416 yards rushing.
Jovon Hardin and James Middleton are the defensive ends.
"I've actually seen the team getting better every week. We've played some good competition," Craig said. "The level of competition has gotten better. Any time you beat a team like Berkeley, people are going to talk about how good of a football team you are."