ANDERSON — It’s been at least 13 years since Anderson football coach Randy Albano has dealt with a bye week, by his own estimation.
So it’s understandable if he’s a bit rusty.
“I’m kinda wondering how everybody else (across the state) is doing it,” Albano said during a phone interview Monday. “In all my years of coaching, I’ve only had one bye. It’s been awhile, and I can’t even remember how I did it back then.”
Albano believes the bye came in 2000 when his Highland Scots had a week off before facing perennial powerhouse Carmel. Even if he could remember his routine from that season, it likely wouldn’t make a difference. Highland lost that game, and Albano said he’d be looking for a new approach anyway.
He’s settled on a regimen of rest. For now.
The Indians (3-6) closed the regular-season Friday with a 42-7 loss against North Central Conference rival Kokomo. Anderson tried some new lineup changes and a different approach against the Wildkats that just didn’t pan out.
So for the upcoming sectional rematch against Richmond (7-2), Albano is going back to the basics.
The Tribe will practice just three days this week before starting full-scale preparations on Saturday. On Monday, Anderson watched film of the Kokomo loss and lifted weights before breaking for the evening.
“I’d normally rather play (this weekend),” Albano said. “But this year, I’d rather not play and get healthy.”
The bye week became a postseason necessity this season when the new Class 6A was formed, splitting the former Class 5A into two divisions. Anderson remains a 5A school, but it’s sectional field shrank from eight schools to five.
That doesn’t mean the path has gotten any easier. Not by a long shot.
Indianapolis Cathedral (4-5) travels to Decatur Central (5-4) in Friday’s lone first-round matchup. The winner hosts Zionsville (4-5) in next week’s semifinals. But don’t be fooled by the records.
Each team plays outstanding competition in the Indianapolis metro area and, in Cathedral’s case, against top teams from neighboring states. The Irish are ranked No. 5 in Class 5A, and Zionsville and Decatur Central both received honorable mention in the final media poll.
Anderson meanwhile still is in the midst of a postseason winless slump that dates back to 1993. Albano — who is in his fourth season with the Indians — said he won’t mention the drought to his players, however, this week.
“It really doesn’t have anything to do with me or them,” he said. “Anderson hasn’t been very good on getting a good draw, and that has a lot to do with it.”
That’s not a problem this season.
Albano’s happy with the matchup against the NCC champion Red Devils, despite a 48-26 loss in Week 3. Senior running back Jerian Beard was one of several Indians who didn’t play in that contest but will be healthy for the postseason rematch.
“We had a lot of guys missing in that first game,” Albano said. “So I feel like we’re gonna be a little stronger this time.”
This is the first of a four-part series previewing high school football sectionals. The series will conclude Friday.