Home-field advantage.

That’s what the Sacred Heart Tigers encounter this week in a Tapps Division IV bi-district playoff against the Waco Texas Christian Stars.

“That’s so important especialy with the fact that Waco is 2-3 on the road,” Sacred Heart coach Dale Schilling said. “They have to make the three-hour trip from Waco and with the seniors knowing this is their last home game they want to leave a good taste in their mouths.”

Also playing in the Tigers favor is a much-needed bye in Week 10 of the regular season.

Not that they were especially unhealthy, but the Tigers could use the extra rest after playing 10 straight games, which should rest them up well for a run at a state title.

“We needed it,” Schilling said of the open date. “It’s tough to get a bye late in the season because you would like to work on fundamentals, but it worked so well for us because it let our minds (and bodies) rest. “We’re as healthy as we’ve been since (Wichita Falls) City View.”

Waco Christian comes in at 7-3 on the season and was co-district champs with Garland Christian and Richardson Canyon Creek. Because of points, the Stars finished third in their district, lining them up with the Tigers.

Helping the Stars reach the playoffs is a dual-threat quarterback named Xavier Denton.

For Schilling and the Tigers, he is the type of player his team is familiar with having played a couple of spread teams in district play.

“As he goes, their offense goes,” Schilling said of Denton and the Stars. “He’s a playmaker. The key to the game is keeping him inside. He’s a better runner than passer, but he can beat you on playaction. We have our hands full.”

Tigers quarterback Matt Hesse and the passing game, Schilling said, will be one of the top factors in whether the Tigers are able to advance to the next round.

“That’s the second most important thing we’ve done is throw the football,” Schilling said of what his team did during the bye week. “We kind of shrunk down our passes and we really got (Hesse) back on target because we are going to have to throw the football in the playoffs, and he has responded well.”

Schilling also hopes the senior leadership provides a spark in this week’s contest.

“The seniors have really taken the bull by the horns,” Schilling said. “They have really showed leadership on the field and in the weight room. We have been loose, but serious when we needed to be.”

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