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Win or go home

“We have to play with the energy of its win or go home.” - East head coach Greg Smith on opening postseason play against Van Horn on Friday.

It’s playoff season. Every team in Missouri gets a clean slate. Even in the Interscholastic League. Regular-season records are meaningless at this time of the year. Win at all cost or go home.

Postseason play begins in earnest Friday for several IL teams, including Southeast, the No. 5 seed in Missouri Class 3 District 7.

The Knights take on No. 4 Pembroke Hill in PrepsKC’s BeYOUnion Game of the Week.

After one win just one season ago, Southeast finished the regular season 4-4 and captured a share of the league title with a 3-0 mark. Lincoln Prep, the No. 1 seed in Missouri Class 4 District 7, received a bye.

The Blue Tigers, 6-2, finished 2-0 in league play to claim a share of its fourth title in four years. Lincoln is 23-7 overall since 2018, and 13-1 in the IL since 2017.

Pembroke Hill, Southeast’s opponent, finished its regular season 5-2, including losses to Lincoln Prep and undefeated St. Pius X (8-0). The Raiders easily handled IL teams East and Northeast, and blitzed Van Horn (4-5) 44-6 in Week 9.

To pull off the upset, the Knights will have to compete for four quarters, head coach Julius Foster said.

“The big thing this week is playing for each other,” he said. “We all we got is the mentality. Being mentally tough… on the road as the underdog.”

East (3-6, 2-1) is the No. 5 seed in Class 4 District 7. The Bears travel to No. 4 seed Van Horn seeking revenge from a 44-20 beatdown in August. The Week 1 matchup was eons ago, East head coach Greg Smith said. Expect his squad to come out swinging against the Falcons.

“We aren’t the same team that faced them in Week 1,” Smith said. “We have to play with the energy of its win or go home.”

Kansas City Central (2-7, 1-3) is the No. 6 seed in Class 3 District 8. No. 3 seed Cameron (6-3) awaits. The Dragons outscored two opponents from the IL — Northeast and Southeast — 105-0 this year. The stakes are high, and the challenge is daunting for Central.

“We have discussed the fact that we are in a win or go home situation,” Blue Eagles head coach DJ Pittel said. “I have addressed the seniors, whom have no offers, explaining to them that this may be the last time they ever put on a football helmet. I told them that I am selfish in the fact that I do not want to stop coaching them and how much we as a staff love them.

“With a win in the playoffs we have an opportunity to not only play together for another week, but we get more exposure for the class of 2020.”

Winless Northeast (0-7) is the No. 7 seed in Class 3 District 8. The Vikings travel to Maryville (6-3) to take on the second-seeded Spoofhounds, who downed league power Lincoln Prep 49-10 earlier this season.

The Vikings have scored a total of 36 points this season, with 16 of those coming in a Week 9 loss to Southeast.