Whiteland football coach Darrin Fisher said he basically had no reaction earlier this month when his team drew a first-round sectional bye.
For the Warriors, it’s nothing new.
A 14-day break between games for players accustomed to competing weekly might seem to have a downside, but Fisher doesn’t necessarily see it that way.
“I think you always try to maximize your routine. We have a plan for each,” said Fisher, whose sixth-ranked squad travels to No. 2 and unbeaten Columbus East for a much-anticipated Class 5A sectional semifinal.
“You’re used to playing every week, but you have a plan for a bye week, too.”
Two-week breaks have become common for Whiteland, as this is the third consecutive season it’s enjoyed extended time off following the annual Week 9 showdown with Mid-State Conference rival Greenwood.
The Warriors’ hard-fought 19-14 victory on the Woodmen’s home turf Oct. 16 capped off a perfect 6-0 record against league opponents.
Not playing last Friday night allowed Fisher, his coaches and many Warriors players to attend Columbus East’s 56-28 first-round sectional victory at Franklin.
The fact the time off coincided with Whiteland’s two-week fall break allowed players and coaches alike to focus solely on football, though Fisher never broke pattern of starting practices at 3:20 p.m. sharp.
“We’ve handled our bye weeks the same. You give everybody a little time off, and there is more time to spend on fundamentals and just working on the things that need to be worked on. The great thing about fall break is it’s like the preseason without the heat,” Fisher said.
The Warriors coach likes the fact his players are used to high-stakes games, sealing the Mid-State title with three conference victories in October, two of them road games.
Whiteland has a 35-8 record in October games since Fisher became head coach in 2005.
“It’s do-or-die football. You do the work in August and September in order to be great in October. Our kids have earned the right to play in pressure football games, and they’ve handled it great,” he said.
“They’re pretty focused on what we need to do. Our kids are excited to play in this football game. Our mindset is really good right now. They are fully locked in.”
Whiteland last played Columbus East in a second-round sectional game in 2010. The Warriors posted a 59-22 win before losing at Bloomington North in the final the following week.
The 2002 Warriors also won a sectional game there, defeating the Olympians, 40-23.