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Waynesboro earns much-craved playoff berth

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Forrest Rhyne knows what it feels like to look at those final official District 3 rankings and have his heart sink.

A year ago, Rhyne and Waynesboro's football team finished one spot out of playoff contention. In the winter, the Indian wrestling team, including Rhyne, was once again outside looking in by only one place.

Last Friday, all that changed when the Indians defeated Mifflin County, moving into the No. 8 spot in Class 5A, earning their first ever District 3 football playoff berth.

"This just kind of sums up what we dreamed up in 2014," Rhyne said. "We saw where the program wanted to be, and we're finally here. All we needed was a berth, and we're going to do our thing from here on out."

'Boro coach Steve Myers said, "It would've stung to be sitting one spot out again, so it's definitely a reward for having another good season. The playoffs are a nice reward for the work we've put in, but I'm not happy just getting there."

If Waynesboro (7-3) wants to get further, it's going to take some work. The Indians will hit the road for a date with No. 1-seeded Governor Mifflin (9-1), which has not lost since Week 1. The Mustangs are averaging 36 points per game, they've rushed for nearly 2,500 yards as a team, and their quarterbacks boast a completion percentage of 64.5 percent.

"They run a lot of option-type stuff, but they're very effective when they pass," Myers siad. "They don't pass it a ton, but when they do, they're very efficient, and usually when they hit one, it's a touchdown. They lull you to sleep, then slap you with one, so we have to be disciplined on the defensive side of the ball."

Myers isn't worried about his defense, though.

The Indians have allowed an average of 12.6 points per game, but in the last six games, they've dwindled that number down to 5.8 points per game.

Rhyne has been the leader of the defense, as he's closing in on 100 tackles for the season. Jimi Hoffman (64 tackles) and Patrick Swiney (60) have also been big contributors. The defense's biggest focus will be Isaac Ruoss, who is 31 yards away from 1,000 on the ground.

But it's the offense that's definitely going to need to keep up. The Indians have been rolling lately, with the last five matchups ending in mercy-ruled victories.

"They definitely have a good defense, which complements their offense," said Cameron Keck, who leads Waynesboro with 25 catches for 658 yards. "Offensively for us, we have some different stuff going in, but I think we're just going to run what we've been running."

Myers said, "We'll have a couple tricks up our sleeves if we need them. It's not really a ton of new plays, but it was just different ways to disguise them ... We gotta make sure we don't get out of character and try to do too much just because it's a playoff game."

One of Waynesboro's biggest focuses has also been mental preparation for this whole new ballgame.

"Yeah, we are the No. 8 seed, and Governor Mifflin is the No. 1 seed, but that's OK," Rhyne said. "We're one of the top teams in the district. They're obviously a great team, and we respect them, but we know that we can beat them. That's the mentality we need."

Indians-Mustangs at a glance

Game data: Waynesboro Indians at Governor Mifflin Mustangs ... Friday, 7 p.m. at Governor Mifflin Stadium ... District 3 Class 5A quarterfinal.

Media: Follow @liziarbogast on Twitter for updates.

Teams: The Indians (7-3) are the No. 8 seed, while Governor Mifflin (9-1) is No. 1. Both have won at least six straight.

P.O. pick: Mustangs by 3.