The message is clear for the Sandy Creek Cougars. 'Win and get to Lincoln.'

The undefeated Cougars are one win away from advancing to the state championship game for the first time in team history. But this opportunity didn't come without challenges. 

Last year, the Cougars transitioned from 11-man to 8-man football. They also transitioned to a new head coach. It's been so far, so good for 2nd year head coach Andrew Kuta, as he's made the state playoffs in each season. 

"There were definitely some bumps along the road, definitely some learning curves," said Kuta. "We learned a lot last year, and we feel like it put us in a position this year be a lot more competitive, especially early."

On paper, this is the best Sandy Creek team ever. Last week's win against Cross County marked the Cougars third playoff win in a season, the most in school history.

"It means quite a bit," said Junior Wide Receiver/Cornerback Connor Rempe. "All we gotta do is keep going. 'If we die, we die' is what we like to say around here, and there's nothing to lose."

The Cougars feature an explosive and tricky offense led by three-year starting Quarterback Ethan Shaw. Like any good Quarterback, he knows there are more pieces to the puzzle than just himself.

"I can't do anything without my offensive line blocking in front of me, and my wide receivers running routes," said Shaw. "I make all the right reads when I'm out there, but I couldn't do anything without them."

The task at hand for Sandy Creek this week is top-seeded and undefeated Stanton. The Mustangs are averaging 45 points per game on offense, and will be the toughest test for the Cougars this season. 

"They're really excited for this opportunity, they know what's in front of them," said Sandy Creek Head Coach Andrew Kuta. "They're focused on us. They're going to focus on doing the things we need to do to be successful. If we're able to make a few plays on Friday, I think we'll be able to do that."

After the game on Friday, one team will advance to the title game in Lincoln, the other will go home with their only loss of the season. 

Kickoff is at 7 PM on Friday, and will be broadcast on KHAS Radio - 104.1 FM - 1230 AM.