Print and Go Back ESPN.com: High School [Print without images]

Thursday, November 4, 2010
Irving Nimitz seeks happy landing in playoffs

By Randy Jennings

It almost flies in the face of logic that Irving Nimitz can reach the playoffs with a victory over rival Irving on Friday.

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Irving Schools Stadium.

Nimitz (5-4, 3-4 District 6-5A) finds itself  close to postseason despite a season of  injuries, dismissals and departures.

One school bus is large enough to carry the 31 remaining varsity players to games these days. Seven Nimitz players play both ways. The biggest offensive lineman weighs in at 225 pounds.

“We still need to win one more, and you never know about crosstown games,’’ coach Steven Hohenberger said, “but is has been an amazing season.’’

Trouble started when three starting offensive linemen suffered injuries in the second game of the season with district play beginning the following week.

Losses on the field and in the dressing room followed. Hohenberger dismissed the team’s leading returning receiver. After another loss, a three-year starter in the offensive line announced he was leaving the team.

Said Hohenberger: “We could have gone down to the junior varsity and brought up some guys, but I thought, 'This is the seniors’ team. Let’s see what we can do.'’’

Even if it meant playing a 132-pound linebacker or an offensive lineman that started the year on the No. 2 junior varsity team.

Somehow, it has worked. Nimitz has won three of its last four to position itself for its second straight playoff trip.

“Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got some good football players,’’ Hohenberger said. “J.J. Gaines is a Division I player and our quarterback, Adam Charles, has done a great job.’’

Gaines, a wideout, has 619 receiving yards and has rushed for 194 yards.

Charles is completing 59 percent of his passes and has thrown for over 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns.

In its stretch drive, Nimitz has won three of four. All the wins were against the three teams that could unseat them for the playoff berth, Grapevine, Irving MacArthur and Richland.

Nimitz thus enjoys the edge should a playoff tiebreaker be needed, but a loss to Irving eliminates any playoff hope for the Vikings.

Irving (1-8, 1-6) is coming off its first win of the season, 27-14, over Haltom.