"We know we're the underdog, there's no doubt about that," admitted Shiloh Christian head coach Josh Floyd just after his headed to the locker room following their walk through at Cowboy Stadium.
With just over 16 hours separating them from a chance to play USA Today's #1 Euless Trinity, Floyd, his staff and team looked focused and prepared as they ran through plays, formations and possible scenarios that they could face on the turf the following morning.
Keeping his team loose yet focused on the challenge ahead of them has been the least of Coach Floyd's worries this past week.
"Focused hasn't really been the problem, they've been talking about this game since January," said Floyd. "The focus last week was more of our concern just because everyone wanted to talk about Dallas for the past six months and we needed to beat Watson Chapel first, but our kids did a good job of being focused there."
Shiloh Christian quarterback, Kiehl Frazier (6'3", 215), also revealed that staying focused has not been an issue for himself of his teammates.
"Coach Floyd has just told us to stay focused but it really hasn't been that hard because I mean, we're playing the #1 team in America and you don't get that chance too often-we're ready to go." said Frazier
Of course, it's hard not to talk about the biggest high school football game in the nation so far this season and one of the biggest games ever for an Arkansas high school football program. Shiloh Christian's opponent would certainly foot the bill as Goliath to the Saint's David.
The Euless Trinity Trojans are the defending Texas Class 5A Division 1 state champions, and winners of three of the last five. They've run up a 116-19 record since 2000, including a 14-2 finish last season. They'll be bigger, stronger and much more physical than any other opponent Coach Floyd or his Saints will face for the remainder of the season.
"They're big, fast, strong," said Frazier, and he's right of his assessment of the Trojans, they are all of the above. His coach agrees with him, in fact, he had trouble finding the exact words to describe his Labor Day opponent.
"As far as Trinity goes, I mean, you can't really put them into words," replied Floyd. "They're just really strong with their big men up front and they've got speedy running backs on offense, [both running backs] are very talented."
What has kept Josh Floyd up these past few nights has been coming up with ways to slow down Euless Trinity's Brandon Carter. The Oklahoma commit will line up just about anywhere except at offensive tackle for the Trojans, but don't be surprised if he does. Against Tyler Lee last week Carter took snaps at both quarterback and wide receiver and torched the Red Raiders for 145 offensive yards [111 receiving, 34 rushing] and two touchdowns.
Coach Floyd recognizes talent when he sees it, and Carter certainly caught his attention while viewing game film. When questioned on specific players the Saints will have to devote extra attention to, Floyd was quick to offer a response.
"Obviously receiver Brandon Carter, who will also line up at quarterback for them as well, made a few catches for them last week that were just unbelievable," said Floyd. "They're everything they're built up to be."
As with any big time match-up, a coach wants to carry every bullet he can into the gun fight, but for Shiloh Christian, they'll be at least one round down. Senior Jon Hawes (6'3", 205) suffered a broken foot in the Saints opener against Watson Chapel last Monday and is expected to miss up to a month of football.
"Definitely a big blow for us, "said Floyd in reference to the Hawes loss. "He was a two year starter for us, a college prospect guy and we're really going to be missing him since he lined up at both defensive back and receiver for us."
Luckily for the Saints, all-purpose man Garrett Harper (5'10", 191) will be back and ready to face off against Euless Trinity. Harper was banged up in the Watson Chapel game, causing him to miss the second half, but the injury was not as bad as onlookers would have made it out to be.
'We're proud of our guys and whatever happens, I know our guys have done everything they can to this point to get ready.'
- Josh Floyd, Head Coach, Shiloh Christian Saints
"Garrett is ok, it was just one of those situations where he probably could have gone back in last week in the second half if he needed to but we pulled away so we didn't want to take any chances," Floyd revealed.
At this point, the only thing left to do is play the game. Coach Floyd expressed that his team is as prepared as they can be and are now ready to face the challenge.
"I've never seen kids so focused on a goal," said Floyd. "We've done everything we can do and that's what we've talked about all week; lets just remember the one thing we can control is our preparation. We can't control how big, fast or strong those guys are-just our preparation and our guys have done that"
Frazier is also ready to face off against the Trojans tomorrow and he expects nothing short of a Shiloh Christian victory.
"We have focus coming in and then just to see this stadium-we feel like getting to play in a stadium like this, we're going to have to win."
Coach Floyd knows the odds are stacked against him, but he also believes in his Saints. A win against Euless Trinity would be the biggest ever for not just Shiloh Christian, but for an Arkansas team in general.
"We're playing for a lot of people, not just ourselves but our school, our families and our state, so hopefully we're going to represent Arkansas well. I've said the whole time, as long as they're only allowed to put 11 people on the field, we've got a shot," said Floyd in his closing remarks. "Those guys [Euless Trinity] are very, very talented, definitely the most talented team that we've seen and way more talented than anyone in our state but we think our guys are pretty stinking good as well."
"We're proud of our guys and whatever happens, I know our guys have done everything they can to this point to get ready." concluded Floyd.
It's go time.
Kyle O'Neal's Pick: - Shiloh Christian by 1
Luke Matheson's Pick: - Shiloh Christian by 3
The game is slated to kickoff at 10:30 AM and will be shown on Fox Sports Network.
ArkansasVarsity.com editor Kyle O'Neal and photographer Jimmy Jones are on hand in Dallas, Texas, and will have a full report complete with photos following the game.