Theoretically, Sweetwater needs to win two of its last three games to have a real-istic shot at the playoffs af-ter losing to Abilene Wylie 20-15 in its district opener.
And as far as Mustang head coach Craig Slaughter is concerned, the winning needs to start this Friday against an 0-7 Big Spring squad at Mustang Bowl.
How much urgency is there for Sweetwater?
“This is a must win,” said Slaughter, whose team is 3-4 but is finally back home after three straight losses on the road. “Our guys are sick of being close. I thought that we executed the game plan (last week against Wylie) and played well enough to win. We’ve just got to keep grinding and knock the door down, and get it done.”
Big Spring — which lost to Brownwood 38-7 in its 5-3A opener this past week and has been outscored 222-62 overall — would certainly appear to offer Sweetwater an excellent chance to get that badly-needed victory and keep the Mustangs’ playoff chances alive.
Slaughter, of course, isn’t taking the Steers lightly. “They’ve beaten us the first two years I’ve been here,” he said.
“We’ve got to be ready to play, and play at a high level. (Big Spring) is trying to build their program back up, and nothing would make their season more than beating us.”
After a 7-6 opening loss to Fort Stockton, Big Spring has six straight double-digit defeats. The Steers and Mustangs have three common foes and Sweetwater compares favorably, as it had chances to defeat both Monahans and Midland Greenwood, losing to those teams by a total of just 12 points while Big Spring was outscored 74-17 by the Loboes and Rangers.
Slaughter saw a lot to like against Wylie as Sweetwater had 21 first downs and 322 total yards while commit-ting just one turnover. “We need to limit our turnovers and start forcing more of them,” he said.
Big Spring had no turnovers last week, but man-aged 113 yards of offense while surrendering 361 to the Lions, who with four weeks left in the season are tied with Wylie for the early district lead but must still play Wylie and Snyder. Brownwood hosts Snyder (5-1), the pre-district favorite, on Friday. Sweetwater still has to play both the Lions and Tigers.
The defense gave up 275 yards last week, two-thirds of it on three runs of 41, 64 and 74 yards that figured heavily in the outcome. Sweetwater’s longest offen-sive play went just 23 yards, and it had just three other plays of 17 yards or more against Wylie, and Slaughter thinks the offense will have to be more explosive.
Sweetwater is seeking its first district win since beat-ing Breckenridge in 2009.