CARY — Green Hope High football coach Kwame Dixon began the season with a simple exercise. He asked players to close their eyes and raise their hands if they thought the Falcons would make the playoffs.
Dixon wont say how many kids raised their hands, but he knew his players didnt yet believe in themselves. The Falcons had won seven of 77 games since the 2004 team finished 13-2. Last years team was 2-9. Oddly enough, Dixon thinks the turning point for his team, which clinched a playoff berth with Friday nights 14-3 win over Panther Creek, came during a 36-19 loss to Leesville Road.
Leesville Road dominated with a 27-6 halftime lead, but Green Hope made a game of it in the second half, outscoring Leesville 13-9.
That was our turning point, Dixon said. Our kids realized they could compete with one of the best teams in Wake County. They realized if they had played the first half like the second half, we could have won.
Green Hope defeated Cary 20-17 and Panther Creek to improve to 6-5 overall and 4-4 in the Tri-Nine 4A and earn its return trip Friday to league rival Fuquay-Varina, which beat the Falcons 21-17 on Sept. 28.
The playoff berth means Dixon can pull up some players from Green Hopes 10-0 junior varsity to practice with the varsity.
Thats a tremendous advantage, Dixon said. Those teams that make it to the state championship game get five extra weeks of practice.
Dixon said he is proud of his club.
These kids earned all the glory, he said. We have a saying that says games are won in January and February, and these kids worked hard in the offseason.