BIG SANDY — The Big Sandy football program has played in two state championships, but both times the Pioneers found themselves on the losing side.
The first, in 2003 as an 8-Man team, was a 48-8 loss to Drummond. The second, in 2012, was a 77-0 rout against Hot Springs. Now, the Pioneers, confident from the first day of practice, would have another crack at it if they can take down Jordan on the road in the 6-Man semifinals on Saturday.
Head coach Larry Jappe said the community has been thrilled with the possibilities this season has brought: "There’s some old guys around that are excited about the season right now. They went undefeated, and I’m not really sure why they didn’t have a state champion then … them (sic) guys are pretty excited, the ones that are still left around."
Big Sandy won the season opener over Jordan 44-28. That’s been Big Sandy’s closest game all year, and the 8-0 Pioneers have only gotten more confident since.
"That first game was kind of the first game of our new defense. It took two or three games to really get in the flow of it," Jappe said. "We’ve gotten to the point where our varsity is not just trying to keep people scoreless, they’re trying to keep them from getting a first down."
Jordan's season hasn't been too shabby either. The Mustangs haven't lost since the opener, running through the gauntlet of the 6-Man East with a 6-0 record, 8-1 overall.
Big Sandy won't necessarily throw the same look at Jordan the second time around. Senior leader Brock Proulx is dealing with a knee injury he suffered in the first round, which may limit his contribution. Regardless, the Pioneers have a deep roster. Fellow senior Christopher Burns has "been chomping at the bit" all season, according to Jappe. In turn, Burns scored a touchdown last week against Roy-Winifred in the second round of the playoffs.
Of course a win over Jordan wouldn't lock up a title for the Pioneers, but it would check another box. It would bring the championship game to Big Sandy’s home field for the first time ever.
"That’d be pretty amazing. We have the whole town behind us. Everybody is cheering for us, so it’d be pretty awesome to come back and say we did that the first time," senior Clint Darlington said. "We know we have to play hard, but we’re very confident in our team and how we’ll play."
"This is what our goal was and this is what we expected," Jappe said. "We’d been to the quarterfinals two years in a row, we returned everybody, and we really wanted to go the distance this year, and we’re one game away now."
Big Sandy and Jordan kick off at 1 p.m. on Saturday.