For Pat McInally, these two-day trips turn into an opportunity to prepare like it is a more professional road game.
The Brethren Christian coach and his team departed Huntington Beach for Indio on Thursday around 12:30 p.m., making about a 120-mile, one-way trek to a hotel less than 10 miles from Shadow Hills of Indio, the Warriors' opponent on Friday at 7 p.m.
Upon arrival, the team takes over the hotel conference room. The coaches diagram plays and the team watches more tape on the Knights.
"We've done it, but it's definitely a challenge," McInally said.
Long road trips are not new for Brethren Christian. This is the second straight year the East Valley Division draw has given Brethren Christian a lengthy travel for its first-round playoff game. Last year, the Warriors (7-2) were scheduled to play at Big Bear, a 98-mile trip. A snowstorm caused the game to move to Lucerne Valley High School, an even longer drive.
The Warriors fell 27-20 to Big Bear in a back-and-forth game.
"We had the lead in the fourth quarter," McInally said. "They now know they can win a playoff game."
Brethren Christian's key pieces from last season returned this year, so perhaps the distance of this game isn't so grueling, given that there won't be the threat of snow, either. But it is still a disadvantage to the Warriors.
The Warriors are playing a Shadow Hills (6-4) school whose enrollment is almost five times larger than Brethren Christian. McInally said Shadow Hills' strength lies in its running game and the Knights feature a mobile quarterback.
The Knights employ a power formation where a lineman lines up in the backfield. At first, McInally figured they used it in goalline situations, but he said they use it all over the field. If it is effective, they continue running it to overpower their opponent.
Said McInally: "We're going to have to handle their run and force them into passing."