No. 20 Mississippi Gulf Coast head right into the pit Friday, starting the NJCAA South District playoffs against No. 4 Tyler on the Apaches' home field.
"It's going to be a tough game, as always," Gulf Coast coach Chris Handy said. "Somebody asked me if we have a good shot at beating Tyler. I don't think anybody has a good shot at beating Tyler, but we have as good a shot as anybody else."
The game, which kicks off at 5:30 p.m., can be watched online at http://www.apacheathletics.com/Apache_Athletics_Live.
Gulf Coast (13-2-1) is coming off a disappointing weekend at the MACJC/Region 23 Tournament. The Bulldogs tied archrival Pearl River 0-0 in the finals, but the Wildcats won 4-1 in penalty kicks to claim the title.
Pearl River plays Laredo in the other semifinal. One team advances from the four-team tournament to the national championship in Prescott, Ariz., on Nov. 13-18.
Tyler (17-2) has won nine straight. Last year's national champion has won five of the last eight national crowns.
The teams played each other to open the season. The Bulldogs were tied at half but lost 2-1.
"The value in that is they understand how hard you have to compete to play at that level," Handy said. "The hardest part about playing them, if you haven't done it before, is the intensity of the game. These boys have been through it twice already. They've made the trip twice already. They're as prepared as a team from Mississippi to step into that environment and pull off a result. They're ready."
Handy, a former assistant at Tyler, said his team has rebounded from the weekend and is ready to make the trip to Texas.
"I'm confident the boys will show up ready to play," he said. "They'll play hard, and they'll play to win. After that, we'll let the pieces fall where they may. As long as we show up and compete, I'll be happy with the results regardless."
For more information on MGCCC's 10 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCAthletics on Twitter and BulldogLIVE on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.