GRAVETTE (KFSM) - Bill Harrelson realized that 2017 could be a special season even before 2016 came to an end.
"Well we won a playoff game last year, I think that was big for us," the Gravette head coach said. "You know we hadn't won a playoff game in three or four years and won a playoff game. Went a long distance away and won at Pocahontas last year."
Long distance may be an understatement. Gravette knocked off Pocahontas 37-27 before falling on the road to Hamburg 41-10. As the high school farthest Northwest in Arkansas, the trips to the Northeast and Southeast corners of the state totaled 1,200 miles over 21 hours. But thanks to a four game win streak the Lions don't have to travel at all this year.
"I'm fired up about it. I'm excited about it, of course it's something that we always want," defensive coordinator Duke Mobley said. "For the last three or four years we've been on the road having to travel five or six hours."
"2011 was the last year we'd even won a playoff game. So it's huge getting back on track and back to where we wanted to be," said senior Chris Childress.
"Winning the playoff game last year kind of sets the bar for the expectations, we always want to go a step higher," quarterback Tajae White said.
An upset of Shiloh Christian in week nine helped Gravette outscore its last four opponents 161-63 en route to a 6-4 record with five conference wins.
"It's spectacular really. It hasn't been done in a couple years. The seniors in there mean a lot to us," said White said about getting the seniors a first round playoff game at home for the first time since 2010.
"It's huge, it's something we've been dreaming of since seventh grade. Coming out and really just getting better each game and pushing as far as we can," Childress said.
As if the Lions need more motivation, defensive coordinator Duke Mobley is retiring after 27 seasons on the Gravette coaching staff.
"He's going out with the seniors and they're all excited for him," Harrelson said.
The third seeded Lions host Heber Springs on Friday at 7 p.m. to open up the 4A playoffs.