Sam Houston-Covington

The Sam Houston Broncos have had a year to stew over last year’s early exit from the playoffs.

The Broncos lost at home in the first round to Denham Springs 17-14. But after back-to-back 8-2 regular seasons, the No. 10 Broncos are a mission to get some postseason success. They host No. 23 Covington today in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.

Sam Houston has not won a playoff game since 2006, and just 10 since the program started in 1955.

“The plan is to win the football game,” Sam Houston head coach Chad Paulk said. “I think our kids are coming in this year with a different mindset. 

“These kids have experienced some success, they just haven’t experienced any success in the playoffs. Since 1955, Sam Houston has only won 10 playoff games. We have something to play for this week and that is to be a 9-2 team.”

Since starting the season 1-3, the Lions are 5-1 in their last six games in large part to a defense that allowed 7.67 points per game. Senior middle linebacker Edgerrin Cooper, an Oklahoma University commitment, is the leader of the Lions’ defense.

“They’re as good of a defense that we have seen all year,” Paulk said.

Playing against such a solid defense, the Broncos can’t afford to lose the turnover battle. Sam Houston is 1-2 when it has more turnovers than its opponent.

“We like what we seeing as an offense,” Paulk said. “We have a good attack plan. 

“It is about executing that attack on both sides of the football. We feel like if we can win the turnover battle and we can play four quarters of football, we are going to be a tough team to beat.”

Sam Houston senior quarterback Kyle Bartley (236 of 355, 3,145 yards, 37 TDs) has had a record-setting season but left last week’s game in the second quarter with an injury. If he is ready to play, Paulk is expecting a big game out of Bartley.

“Bartley has to come back and have a spectacular game,” Paulk said. “He missed nearly the entire game last week due to an injury in the second quarter.

“We are hoping he plays. He has taken some snaps in practice. We would like to see him in the field, especially this time of year.”