Walnut Springs (11-0) has had a lot of time off with a bye in week nine of the regular season and in the opening round of the Six-Man Division II football playoffs, but head coach Tim Trotter is confident his team will show no rust when they battle Panther Creek.

Kickoff in the Region Four semifinal contest is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday in May.

“We had the ninth week off and we were off last week so it’s been kind of hard to stay focused at times,” says Trotter, who is in the second year of his current stint at Walnut Springs, his 14th year at the school overall. “But we have been practicing like we always do, trying to stay polished. We practiced some for Panther Creek last week.”

The Hornets, who completed a perfect regular season for the second time in school history (the first was in 1958), reached the state semifinals last season, but before they can think about a similar playoff run, they must take care of business against a Panther Creek team Trotter says plays good, sound fundamental football.

“I think they are a physical, fundamental team that takes care of the football,” Trotter said. “They aren’t a real big-play team, but they block well and can move the ball.”

Opposite styles will clash as Walnut Springs runs its wide open spread attack and Panther Creek comes out of tight formations, Trotter said.

Around the small community, the Hornets are first on everyone’s mind.

“Everybody’s excited, and I think everybody feels like we can win,” Trotter said. “The football team is pretty much what everyone’s talking about around town.”

The winner faces either Leverett’s Chapel or Sidney for the regional title. The Hornets beat Leverett’s Chapel during their run to the District 15 championship.