The Wolverines had lost three straight games by 17 points or more, were 0-2 in Region 5AAAAAA play and just trying to maintain respectability.
But a three-game winning streak — highlighted by a 14-7 win over archrival Etowah — vaulted Woodstock right back into the thick of the race for the state playoffs.
Heading into tonight’s regular-season finale at Milton (6-3, 4-2), the Wolverines (3-6, 3-3) now find themselves fourth in the region, with the opportunity of sewing up a playoff berth with a win.
Woodstock can still make the playoffs with a loss tonight, but only if Etowah loses to Lassiter and Wheeler drops its season finale to Cherokee.
“We didn’t give up just because we started bad, and I think that says everything about our kids and the type of players and coaches we have here,” Woodstock coach Brent Budde said. “We played some really good teams in those first five games, and a really tough non-region schedule, hoping it would make us a better team by the end of the year and give us a shot at the playoffs.
“I think it did make us better in the long run, and we still have that chance to make the playoffs.”
To get to postseason play, though, Woodstock will have to tackle a Milton team that Budde said is as tough as any group the Wolverines have seen this season.
“They are such a talented group,” he said. “The running back (Peyton Barber) is an SEC commitment, their junior running back (Treyvon Paulk) has a lot of offers coming his way and, on the defensive side of the ball, (defensive end Carl Lawson) is another SEC kid.”
While Auburn commitment Lawson, the nation’s No. 2-ranked recruit by ESPN, is the unquestioned anchor of Milton’s defense, the Eagles use a two-pronged attack for their offense.
Barber, a Mississippi-bound power back, has teamed with Paulk — who already holds offers from Vanderbilt and Kentucky — to give Milton one of the premier running back tandems in the state. The duo average nearly 300 yards per game between them.
Barber and Paulk have found their way behind a talented offensive line that features three college-bound seniors — Josh Harris (Wake Forest), Cory Helms (Wake Forest) and Eason Fromayan (TCU) — and a sophomore — Nick Wilson — who is already receiving heavy interest.
“They are a very talented bunch, and while they try to hurry-up and no-huddle a lot, we still know they are going to try to run right at us,” Budde said. “We know we’re going to have to beat a good football team (tonight), but if we play like I know we can, I think we will be just fine.”