Not all records at the end of a season are created equal.
The Albany Hornets (5-4, 1-2) hope to close out the regular season with a win over Archbishop Hannon (3-6, 2-1) to clinch a winning regular season under second-year coach Mike Janis.
Albany finished last season 6-4, but Janis said the two seasons are completely different.
“Getting to know the guys has been huge,” Janis said. “We’ve had a year together, so we’ve been able to build those relationships. Just looking at the schedule, if we finish with five wins, we might be in the exact same spot (in the power rankings) that we were last year with six wins.
"The schedule has been much more competitive and we’ve won a district game this year, something we didn’t do last season. The kids have definitely bought in.”
It’s been sort of a tale of two halves for the Hornets. The Hornets offense stung opponents for more than 42 points per game in the first five games. In the past four games, the offense averaged 24 points, but the defense got a boost midway through the season when middle linebacker Tyler Bates returned to the lineup after recovering from an injury.
In his return, Bates has averaged 16 tackles per game and the defense has held teams to a about 21 points per game after the team surrendered 33 points per game in the first five contests.
“To start the year, we played uptempo a little more,” Janis said. “As the season went on, we took more of an efficient approach. (Quarterback) JaeJae (Doherty) has raised his completion percentage a lot and has done a great job of getting catchable balls to the receivers.”
Doherty accounted for two of the three touchdowns in the win over Beau Chene.
In Bates’ absence, Janis said the team was able to shift younger guys around and get them game experience that could help the team in the playoffs.
“We were able to give these guys a chance to improve and get on the field,” Janis said. “They had the opportunities and made the most of them.”
One of the stabilizing forces has been two-way starter Ronnie Turberville.
“My job is to make sure everybody has their role and what they’re supposed to be doing,” Turberville said. “On defense, I just plug the hole and do what I can and make sure everybody knows what needs to be done. When Tyler came back, we all got to play the positions we initially played in practice.”
Turberville said the goal for the team extends beyond the regular season and that starts with a road win over Hannan. Going into the game, the Hornets are 21st in the LHSAA's Class 3A power ratings. The top 16 teams host playoff games in the first round, but the desire for a home playoff game remains.
“We’re just trying to finish with a positive record,” he said. “We want to host a playoff game.”