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E.C. Glass heads into the playoffs with serious but lighthearted approach
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E.C. Glass heads into the playoffs with serious but lighthearted approach

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If Neo Corsini and the E.C. Glass' offensive line meets its quota on Friday nights, the group can be found the next day at a restaurant chowing down on wings, all courtesy of quarterback George White. 

The deal is this: White can't be brought down behind the line of scrimmage and the offense has to finish with at least 150 rushing yards. Meet those conditions, and White's buying. 

"So on Saturdays, we're out eating together," Corsini said at practice this week, using the story as an example of how the boys from midtown have become a tight-knit bunch. "I just love 'em. Great guys."

Corsini returned from a two-week concussion protocol Monday, just in time for the playoffs. The Hilltoppers, ranked No. 4 in the Region 4D bracket, host No. 5 Louisa in what is expected to be a not-to-be-missed showdown at 7 p.m. Thursday. Both teams are 8-2. 

The 6-foot-1, 235-pound Corsini is the leader of the O-line, and he's been an important part of this team's development for several years. They call him "The Italian Stallion," a reference to his family's Italian ancestry. Corsini carries that history with him everywhere: he sports a tattoo of his family's crest on his right bicep. 

"Ask him about his hair," someone yelled Tuesday as Corsini talked to a reporter. 

Oh yeah, they love the hair, too. Maybe even more than the nickname. Corsini described it as "like an overgrown mullet," and laughed. 

He said that as darkness fell in midtown and practice wound to a close. There was additional cheering and laughing from nearby, the occasional sound of one player ribbing another, excited barks as someone made an impressive leaping play on the turf.

Sometimes things can get this way at the end of a successful high school football practice; the enthusiasm builds, good vibes abound, and coaches take a minute to let players enjoy themselves. On Tuesday the guys were amped up, concerned with the task before them and ready to face it, but also reveling in the moment. 

Glass is a young team this season, so many players are entering new territory. Not so for coach Jeff Woody. In 17 years as a head coach, his teams have advanced to the postseason 14 times — in all eight years he spent at Brookville (where he won two state titles), both years he coached at Monticello and in four of the seven seasons he's been at E.C. Glass. So Woody knows a thing or two about how to prepare a team this time of year. 

"We're so youthful, so I just tell them to slow down," Woody said. "Don't race through this. This is the best time of your life. Now, granted, football is not life, but they're gonna remember this for the rest of their lives. Slow down, take the horse blinders off and soak it all in. See what's going on. Enjoy the moment.

"And they are out here having a good time. They know what's up. Obviously the stakes are high. But they know what's goin' on. We're dialed in."

They have to be. Louisa has won 50 of its last 56 games dating back to 2017. The Lions feature some big defensive linemen who can get into the pocket in a hurry to disrupt offenses. They have four shutouts to their credit this season, and will force Glass to rely on its speed. The Hilltoppers need to control field position, which they didn't always do well against Liberty Christian in last week's regular-season finale, and stop the Louisa run. 

"It's knock-down, drag-out, you-better-step-it-up style of football," Woody said about Louisa. 

Get past what could be a rain-soaked affair Thursday at City Stadium and the field only gets tougher. No. 1 Salem (9-1), No. 2 GW-Danville and No. 3 Western Albemarle (9-1) all are ranked ahead of the Hilltoppers, and each is in action Friday. Glass was a little miffed with earning the four seed, especially since it defeated GW early in the season, but White said he and his teammates will make the most out of their situation. 

For a look at how nonchalant this group can be, look no further than White. Even after a rough loss last season against Jefferson Forest on a cold, miserable night when sleet pelted the playing field, White emerged unscathed. It was his first game at quarterback, and it was a rough one. But one of his responses was: "Hey, it's football, and football's fun."

So even when they switch on their game faces Thursday night, football will still be just that. One way that's true: finding new ways to improve your game. White has done that his last couple outings, feeling more comfortable relying on his internal clock, a term for the feeling of when the quarterback needs to change direction in the pocket, when to step up and fire, when it's time to bolt. 

"I've just gained that tool where I'm getting good at it," he said. "The joke was that I had negative 100 rushing yards, and now I'm down to negative 2. So we're getting down to positive numbers."

Then he laughed. And that's a sound that can be heard around here a lot these days. 

"I feel like everyone's really close and we can always joke around," Corsini said. "The good thing is we can get mad at each other in practice, almost get to fighting, and then we're in the locker room joking around like five minutes later."

That sort of relationship may help account for the dramatic turnaround in Hilltopper Country after a dreadful 1-3 spring campaign that included a two-week quarantine period during the season. 

"We're all connected in one way or another," Corsini added. "We all have the want-to. Nobody on this team is saying 'I don't want to practice today.' Everybody's excited to get out here. We're physical, always excited, and it's just a great atmosphere."



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