Calvary Christian football coach Todd Yoder played nine seasons (2000-09) as a tight end in the NFL with Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Washington. He was on four teams that made the playoffs, including the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers in 2002. So Yoder knows something about playing in meaningful games.
Now, he's coaching in one.
Tonight, the Warriors host Admiral Farragut in a key Class 3A, District 5 game. If Calvary Christian wins, it will have the inside track on making the playoffs for the first time in school history. The Warriors are the only football program in Pinellas County that has never made the playoffs.
Yoder, in his second season as coach at Calvary, has helped the program improve. After finishing 5-5 last season, the Warriors are currently 3-1 with three straight wins. To keep that streak going, Calvary will have to beat Admiral Farragut for the first time in six seasons.
Did you have to remind your players about the playoff history and importance of this game?
It's a huge game, that's for sure. Most of the kids that have been here know about the history. I let some of the new players know what was at stake. Everyone should know about it now. I think having that chance to make history helps us focus going into a big game like this. Plus, it's a home game, which will make it even more exciting.
You were in the NFL playoffs and won a Super Bowl. How much of that experience do you relay to your players?
I pull from some of those playing experiences I had and give them a piece of that. I've been in those pressure situations before where the playoffs are on the line. My attitude is when the pressure is on, you have to do what it takes to get that win. That's what I'm trying to get across to the players.
What is the biggest factor in the team's strong start this season?
We're bigger, stronger and more physical. The defense and the offensive line both have a real physical style of play. Most of these guys are in their second year with me and they've been in the weight room. They're also starting to believe in the process of the plan we've put in place. It's paying off this year.