ROGERS (KFSM) - Not every path to the postseason is smooth.
Perhaps nobody's was bumpier than Rogers High School. While the journey wasn't how the Mounties planned, the end goal is still the same.
Just one week ago, the Rogers football team put on their pads for what they thought would be one final week of practice.
"I explained to the kids, let's take care of what we can control, and that's trying to beat your rival," head coach Mike Loyd said as the Mounties prepared for Heritage.
Up until Friday night, the Mounties were winless in conference play and the hopes of a playoff spot were long gone. Following a win over rivals Heritage, the celebration continued long after the final snap for the team.
"The athletic director came up and said Coach, you guys are in," Coach Loyd recalled.
On Friday, Har-Ber High School self-reported the use of an ineligible player and as a result, forfeited three games - including a win against Rogers. Giving up the games in turn meant giving up a shot at the postseason, where the Mounties will fill the open spot.
"It's almost like a second chance. Almost like you can't mess up again," said offensive lineman RJ Long. "You've already tasted failing. You know what it's like to, you just don't want to get back to that situation."
Rogers hasn't won a game in the playoffs since 2006, but the team enters familiar territory in Conway.
"We know we're going to get hit in the mouth, but we also know we're going to hit them in the mouth," said linebacker Timothy Howard. "We've faced them three years in a row. We think this year's the year. We really do."
Now knowing the drill, the Mounties hope to breathe new life into the program.
"Don't be satisfied just being there. Let's go try to win a playoff game and let's see what happens," Coach Loyd said. "They know the stadium. They know the route. They know the routine. Let's get off the bus and go play. Let's play to win, not just being satisfied with just being there."
Rogers will kickoff at Conway Friday night at 7:00 PM.