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Win would push New Hope closer to playoff berth


Adam Minichino



One week isn''t enough to satisfy Michael Bradley. 


Yes, the New Hope High School coach was pleased that the Trojans blocked better Saturday in a 32-21 Class 5A Region 1 victory at Lake Cormorant. 


Bradley also enjoyed watching his team overcome less than ideal playing conditions to execute a game plan that helped the Trojans improve to 5-1 and 2-1 in the region. 


But Bradley has been fond of saying this year that "no win is more important than another." 


And while that might be true, New Hope''s victory last week helped it erase the sting from a 35-8 loss to West Point the week before. 


With a week''s worth of momentum on its side and a several solid days of practice, New Hope will go on the road at 7 tonight to face Saltillo in another region game. 


A victory would push New Hope another step closer to securing a playoff spot. 


But don''t think Bradley is thinking that far ahead. 


"We still have some things to work on," said Bradley, after referring to the Trojans'' latest victory as "ugly." We still made a lot of mistakes, but we adapted and overcame. We couldn''t do a lot of the things we wanted to do (because of the conditions), but the kids didn''t look to put any blame or to look for an excuse. They found a way to win. They played really hard. I was pleased with our effort." 


Bradley said New Hope will need a similar kind of effort tonight when it takes on Saltillo (3-4, 0-3). The Tigers have lost four in a row, the last three all in the region, and have scored in double figures just once -- a 15-12 loss last week to Indianola Gentry -- in the past five games. 


Bradley will make sure overconfidence doesn''t creep into the Trojans'' mind tonight. After the loss to West Point, he said his team might have been "hyped" a little too much and that it might have played in to how the Trojans played against the Green Wave. His goal is to make sure that kind of mind-set never happens again. 


"I want the kids to have fun and to be passionate about what they''re doing, to play with energy and enthusiasm, and not to be satisfied with anything less than the absolute best," Bradley said. "Anything less than 100 percent is not good enough." 


Bradley said he sees signs of his players adopting that attitude. Unfortunately, he said it has its ups and downs -- like a roller coaster -- and that he hopes his players realize that they need to raise their level if they want to extend their season to make a deep run into the playoffs. 


"As coaches, we like to think they''re getting to that point, but we don''t know until we actually play the game," Bradley said. "It will be interesting to see where they stand Friday night."


Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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