Buccaneers back in playoffs for first time since 2013
BEACH — The Beach Buccaneers are back in the 9-man football playoffs this year for the first time since 2013.
And just like that 2013 appearance, Beach will play host to Towner-Granville-Upham for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff on Saturday. The Buccaneers enter as the third seed out of Region 5, behind New Salem-Almont-Glen Ullin and Shiloh Christian. TGU (6-3, 4-2) is the third seed out of Region 4.
After six combined wins from 2014-16, the Buccaneers went 6-2 overall and 5-2 in Region 5 this year to reach the postseason.
"Hopefully it's twice in a lifetime," said junior running back Clay Mattern. "It doesn't happen very often. You have to play very hard-nosed football to get where we are. ... It's new to everybody, but everybody's really, really excited."
The Titans got the best of the Buccaneers in 2013, winning 42-14, so Beach is hopeful for a better showing this time around.
"They came down and cleaned our clock in 2013," Beach head coach Mike Zier recalled.
This year, the Buccaneers will have to be mindful of Titans junior quarterback Garrett Bailey and junior tailback Shayden Luna.
"We just have to stay in our rush lanes and not have a lot of missed tackles," Zier said. "Just try to be fundamentally sound on defense, and on offense, just do what we do and try to keep their offense off the field."
The Buccaneers offense in 2017 has been clicking behind the execution from Mattern and senior quarterback Josiah Orluck. Orluck has passed for 10 touchdowns, against just two interceptions, and 613 yards in his second year as the starter.
"It's been really exciting and a really special year for us," Orluck said. "We're a small team with 18 guys and we came together really well."
Mattern suffered a right hamstring injury seven plays into last year's season opener and missed five games. He has bounced back to rush for 1,095 yards and 10 touchdowns on 165 carries.
"Last year I was kind of a water boy, so it feels good to help the team out a lot," Mattern said.
Zier pointed out that Region 5 was the only league where teams needed four region wins to reach playoff contention — which points to the difficulty of the competition.
"I think from top to bottom, our region was really tough," Zier said. "And quite honestly, we got a lot of breaks, and the biggest one was we had one starter (Ty Van Horn) miss one game for the entire season. That's very rare, so a lot of it is luck, but you take luck and you run with it or you take luck and you don't play well. And they took it and ran with it."