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Pursuing another step

Red Level will be aiming to take another big “step” in its pursuit of playoff dominance this week as the Tigers hit the road Friday to play Southern Choctaw in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs.

“I don’t want to be satisfied with just getting (to the playoffs),” RLS head coach Tony Ingram said. “We want to take another step, and get as far as we want to go. It seems like once you get in the habit of getting to the playoffs and winning — it gets easier.”

This is the first time Red Level has played in the post season since 2006, when the Tigers advanced to the second round. Southern Choctaw also made an appearance in the playoffs in the same year.

“It makes the younger kids want to get back,” Ingram said.

The last time the Tigers and Indians met was last season in a region contest, where Southern Choctaw won, 12-0.

Red Level (5-5) will be facing a similar type team in Southern Choctaw in regards to its offense.

“We’ve got to gang tackle them and the ball,” Ingram said. “Offensively, it’s always going to come down to blocking and tackling. If you block and tackle better than they do, then you’re going to win. That’s our focus this week.”

The Indians run a pro set offense, and use the veer in running plays. Red Level is also known to run the ball with junior running back Raheem Bullock making most of the touches. In addition, senior starting quarterback Preston Ryce is ready to play after suffering an injury, Ingram said.

Southern Choctaw head coach Jeremy Noland said Bullock and Ryce are at the top of his radar this week.

“They are the game breakers, you would say,” Noland said. “You have to keep them hemmed up before you lose them. Once they get into open field, then they’re good.”

Noland said senior linebacker Damian Johnson is back from injury and will return to the field this week, which will help his team’s defense.

At the end of the regular season, the Indians only allowed 161 points on defense, which is an area Noland said his team has seen improvement.

“I believe their football team is better than their record shows on film,” Noland said. “They’re a good running football team. They’ve got excellent speed.

“They play real basic defense, and which is as far as our sake, we’re going to have to protect the football and gain control in order to be successful,” he said.

This is the first time Ingram and Noland have made an appearance in the playoffs as head coaches in their two-year tenures at each school.

Both said they are excited about the opportunity.

“It’s good to get back in that groove,” Noland said.

Ingram said, “I’m excited like these kids are,” he said. “We want to get to where we feel like we belong (in the playoffs).”

Kickoff in Silas is at 7 p.m.