Fighting for a playoff spot, Preston falling victim to brutal schedule

KINGWOOD, W.Va. — As football season churns on, most fans are likely to hear about their favorite team’s strength of schedule.

UCF knows the story well — an undefeated regular season in 2017 wasn’t enough for a College Football Playoff berth — it was told the American Athletic Conference doesn’t provide a tough enough test. You’ll hear it tossed around in many different conversations — regarding post-season hopes, rankings and just the overall talent level of a team. It often comes down to the age-old question: How many quality teams did you play?

As Preston High’s football coach Johnathan Tennant watched his team fall victim to a (likely) playoff-bound team for the third-straight game, he couldn’t help but think to himself about strength of schedule, and how it’s effected his team this year.

“This is the sixth or seventh playoff team we’ve faced in a row,” Tennant said following the loss to UHS Friday night. “We’re just trying to get better each week.”

Of course, getting better is a tough challenge when you can’t seem to find much breathing room, which is par for the course for the Knights this season. Their opponents thus far have a combined record of 42-26, with five of the eight teams sitting inside of the top 16 of the WVSSAC Playoff Ratings entering Week 9.

The tall tasks aren’t finished yet, either — the Knights face another Class AAA top 10 foe in Musselman in Week 11, and their final two opponents this season have a combined record of 11-5.

“I think our young kids are getting better,” Tennant said. “But the problem with our schedule is it’s a lot tougher in the second half of the season. We’re just trying to stay healthy.”

A few issues the Knights face on the gridiron stem directly from their conference affiliation — and Tennant wasn’t shy about just how it hurts his program in the long run.

“The Big 10 doesn’t do us any favors; we’re a rural school, and they have us scheduled to play Fairmont Senior for two years, then dropping down and playing Bridgeport for two years,” Tennant said. “We really don’t have a choice. They made us drop East Fairmont and Elkins; schools we can compete with.”

Tennant discussed plans to alter the schedule in the future, noting that the process is already in motion. Until then, he and the Knights will look to move forward as best as they can, and one thing is for certain; PHS football doesn’t plan to quit fighting any time soon.

“Those are the cards we’re dealt with, and we just have to get better. I think we will get better,” he said. “We’re taking our lumps this year, but we’re still looking forward to what’s next. I told the kids, tonight’s not our night, but our night is going to come at some point in the future.”

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