It hasn't been easy for the Catholic High Crusaders this season.
And that's just the way they like it.
The Crusaders (7-3) enjoy the week-to-week challenge of taking on some of the area's best in the regular season.
But it all serves a purpose, and coach Greg Seibert hopes that purpose is realized tonight when the Crusaders travel to Jacksonville to open the Class 3A state playoffs against Trinity Christian.
"We have built the schedule, and I will continue to build the schedule, to prepare us to play in the playoffs," Seibert said. "There are 16 teams in our class that practiced (Monday) and that's important to us.
"That's a goal for us, whether we're 9-1, 2-8 or 6-4. We want to make the playoffs. The schedule is built to prepare us to do that."
Now that the Crusaders are there, it certainly won't get any easier, starting tonight in Jacksonville against the Conquerors. Trinity Christian (9-1) has been a state power since coach Verlon Dorminey took over in the 1990s.
The Conquerors are making their 18th consecutive playoff appearance and have played for the state title five times, winning three championships.
"I would suggest they're in the top 10 or 11 teams in the state of Florida, when it comes to team speed, across all classifications," Seibert said. "They've built a pretty good squad this year. I think Coach Dorminey is a little bit underrated for what he's been able to accomplish there."
Trinity's offense is an explosive one, led by quarterback Oshay Carter, who enters tonight's game with 1,284 yards and 21 touchdowns passing. Tailback Nick Washington leads the ground game with 671 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"They're really more balanced than you would think," Seibert said. "For many years, Dorminey was a Wing-T guy, but with the emergence of Carter, it's created a situation where they're a pretty dangerous offense.
"That's two styles that you have to defend. Carter is really the X-factor in that offense. He's 6-4 and 240 pounds and can run a little bit. Downs of less than three yards to go, you can rest assured he's going to run it and dare you to stop him."