By Tommy Keeler Jr.
Strasburg didn't have long to get over its loss to Central last week in the regular-season finale. With the playoffs starting just a week later, the Rams knew they had no time to sit around and mope.
The Rams will play host to Nottoway today in a Division 2, Eastern Section game at 2 p.m. and the team feels very ready for the playoffs.
"You can't let a game like that deflate you, because you got to get ready to go next week for the playoffs," Strasburg coach Mark Roller said. "If you let it linger, then your season's over the next week. So our kids have done a pretty good job of that. It's still in the back of their minds, but they're concentrating right now on Nottoway and that's what they should do."
The Cougars (5-5) deserve to have the Rams' full attention, as Roller said they are very athletic and tall.
"They spread you out and try to run the ball and use their speed," Roller said. "That's the thing that we're concentrating on right now to take away."
Strasburg (9-1) got a boost last week on defense as senior Todd Dean returned to action. It was his first regular action since injuring his ankle against Page County on Sept. 7.
Dean had been doing some kicking in the last few games, but saw his first extensive action against the Falcons.
"It feels great [to be back]," Dean said. "It was tough emotionally and physically [not being out there], but it happens. It's the game."
Dean had an interception for the Rams in their first three games of the season.
Strasburg senior running back/linebacker Rakwon White said it was really nice to have Dean back on the field.
"Todd was one of the big keys in our defense last week," White said. "He stepped up big time, and it feels good to have him back."
Roller said they're trying to slowly work Dean back into everything, but he expects him to see more time at running back and get a few carries this week on offense.
Dean had 27 carries for 145 yards and three touchdowns in the first three games of the season. White has rushed for 2,141 yards and 24 touchdowns this season, and Roller said it's nice to have both of them to rely on.
"They're just two different backs," Roller said. "When you play a team like Nottoway it's good to have somebody in there that can get lost and runs hard [like Dean]. And you got the speed and power of Rakwon. The two make a great combination."
One thing that will be different for the Rams is having to play on Saturday.
It will be the fist time this year the Rams haven't played on a Friday night, but they did play on a Saturday last year in the playoffs against Amelia.
"You get in the groove of playing Friday nights," Roller said. "It's going to be a little difficult I think, but they have to play on Saturday, too. It's going to be the same for both teams."
The Rams will have the advantage of playing at home, and won't have to make a long trip like Nottoway will.
Strasburg also has some playoff experience, which should help them. They have a lot back from last year's team, which won a playoff game before losing in the second round.
The Rams have 11 seniors on the team, and knowing it could be their last football game in high school will be added motivation.
"If you lose, you're done -- no more football," Dean said. "It's a new season. So we'll try to do our best to get further than we did last year."
Contact assistant sports editor Tommy Keeler Jr. at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org