Immediately, the Westhill football team found its collective heart challenged as it began the Section III Class B playoffs.
But the Warriors were up to it, relying on both the steady running of Dale Ross and well-timed big plays to fend off Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, 38-24, in last Saturday's opening-round contest.
At 7-0 and no. 10 in the state Class B rankings, the Warriors were pumped up about hosting the Red Devils -- but never got the chance to be at home.
Heavy rains on Thursday and Friday turned Westhill's home grass into a muddy mess, bad enough that officials decided to move the game to Saturday -- and to the clean Field Turf at nearby Corcoran High School.
In the new location, both offenses would thrive, and it would take a while for the Warriors to put the Red Devils away.
Fullback Eric Dwyre put Westhill on the board with a one-yard TD plunge in the first quarter. Ross slipped out of the backfield to catch Dan Fetter's pass and score from 28 yards out in the second quarter.
Down 14-0, V-V-S rallied behind running back Mike Jones. He scored on runs of 10 and two yards, but because both conversion attempts failed, Westhill clung to a 14-12 edge at halftime.
Needing a decisive move, the Warriors made it in the third quarter, building its lead back to 28-12.
First, Fetter exploited the mismatch he has enjoyed all season, throwing deep and finding Jim Ross for a 22-yard TD pass.
Moments later, V-V-S fumbled deep in its own territory -- and Joe Bright pounced on it, returning the ball 22 yards for six more points.
Dale Ross would rule in the fourth quarter, churning up yardage and burning up the clock to counter the Red Devils' late attempts at a rally. He ran 44 yards for one TD, and his late gains set up Carter Cywilko's 17-yard field goal.