(Corning) -- It hasn't always looked easy, nor been pretty, but the Southwest Valley football team has found a way to go 1-0 on five consecutive Fridays. A sixth straight showing would hand the Timberwolves a Class A District 9 title.
The latest win was no different, as Coach Anthony Donahoo's team found a way to hold off a Riverside comeback for the 15-12 victory last Friday.
"I continue to come back to the word physical," said Donahoo. "Our boys continue to battle back after all the adversity."
Southwest Valley's season has endured many twists and turns: three wins by three points or less, a canceled homecoming, a game played with their coach in quarantine and a controversial contest with Earlham. No matter the obstacle, the T-Wolves have been resilient and persevered.
"They stay calm in the moment," Donahoo said. "I think the culture we have built of going 1-0 is bigger than itself. It means going 1-0 on every play, and I think they did that against Riverside."
The Timberwolves have come a long way since their 28-0 loss to Central Decatur at the beginning of the season. Perhaps that loss set the stage for their remarkable six-game stretch.
"I think the guys felt embarrassed," Donahoo said. "We had a lot of excitement in the offseason. We knew we wanted to be dominant. After that week one loss, we went home and licked our wounds. As a team, we said everyone needed to do a better job."
The defense has been stellar in this stretch, led by Hunter Crill, Dillon Inman, Colin Jacobs and Robbie Barnes.
"We preach relentless pressure," Donahoo said. "These guys know their roles and do it well."
The Timberwolves are on the cusp of a district championship and guaranteed home playoff game. That is if they can beat Mount Ayr (5-2, 4-1).
The Raiders, meanwhile, have won four straight and are coming off a 31-6 victory over Earlham. Like Southwest Valley, they can also clinch the district title with a win. Jaixen Frost leads their offense with 944 passing yards, 14 touchdown tosses, 469 rushing yards and seven scores. Preparing for a playmaker like Frost is not easy. But Southwest Valley is no stranger to facing dynamic athletes such as St. Albert's Brendan Monahan, Riverside's Austin Kremkoski and Rhett Bentley and Earlham's Darrell Matchem.
"You are not going to stop a kid like that," Donahoo said. "He's going to hit a big play. It's just how we come back from that. We bend but don't break, and that's what you have to do against a team like Mount Ayr.
Donahoo hopes his team's adversity-filled season pays dividends as the postseason looms.
"Iron sharpens iron," he said. "You are only going to get stronger if you get tested. We knew if we could get out of our district, we'd be ready for playoff football because it's only going to get tougher."
As far as Friday goes, Donahoo wants his team to treat it like any other contest.
"You have to stay in the moment," he said.
Cody Konecne has reports on Friday as part of the Red Oak Chrysler Football Connection Show. Tune into all of KMA Sports' week eight coverage from 6:20 until midnight on KMA 960 and FM-99.1. Click below to hear the full interview with Coach Donahoo.