October 25, 2013 11:19:27 AM
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEENS -- It has been nearly a month since the Immanuel Christian School football team earned one of the biggest victories in its history.
At 7 tonight, the Rams will try to earn an even bigger victory.
The Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class A, District 2 title will be on the line tonight when Immanuel Christian (4-5) plays host to Deer Creek School (5-4). Immanuel Christian enters the game 2-0 in the district, while Deer Creek is 1-1. Victories against Carroll Academy and Greenville Christian have put Immanuel Christian in control of its destiny and given it a chance to win the school's first district title in 11-man football.
With a first playoff appearance since 2010 already secured, Immanuel Christian coach Greg Watkins hopes his team can shake off losses to West Memphis Christian and Newton County Academy the past two weeks and regain the focus it had Sept. 27 against Greenville Christian.
"After the game (against Newton County Academy), we talked about it and you could just see it in their eyes," Watkins said. "There was a disappointment of the loss, but it also was the look of, 'OK, it is here. The game is finally here.' That is what it has been about since Greenville in their minds. As coaches, we are trying to prepare every week and these are 14- to 18-year-old kids, and if you have kids you never know what is going on in their minds. I think you could just see in their eyes that the relief was over from the past games and now we're here for the game we have been waiting on.
"As far as getting them up, I think my job is easy as far as getting them up. We just have to be prepared for what Deer Creek is going to bring to the field and be able to execute our game plan."
Watkins said the Rams did some things they normally don't do the past few weeks. He isn't sure if the team was looking ahead to its game against Deer Creek, which has won distrct titles the past two seasons when Immanuel Christian was in Class AA. He feels a physical effort in last week's loss helped set the tone this week and will help the Rams get back on track.
"I don't think it has been on Deer Creek much. I think it has been we are playing for a district championship and we knew that and we were kind of complacent and the minds haven't really been where they needed to be at practice and on the field," Watkins said. "We have some new stuff we put in, and the guys are real excited about it. We have moved some guys around, and we have picked up all of the junior high kids, the ninth-grade kids, and we will have them for all four quarters, and that is big.
"It's exciting. Like I told the kids, I have coached a lot of teams and won a lot of district titles and all, but it is not about me It is about me. I think I am more excited for them and for the school to be in this position than anything because God has blessed me so much. I just hope the grace falls on them (tonight)."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.