The State College Little Lions have plenty to be thankful for this holiday weekend.
After an impressive 16-7 victory over the McDowell Trojans last Saturday in DuBois, the Little Lions will have the luxury of spending the holiday with family and friends at home rather than with blood-thirsty opponents on the gridiron.
While other teams may view a bye week during the playoffs as a momentum killer, State College head coach Al Wolski and his team view it as a blessing in disguise.
"We want to give them time to refresh and cleanse," said Wolski. "They'll need to heal a little bit. It was a very physical game (versus McDowell) on Saturday."
The Little Lions will face the winner of the WPIAL finals match up between Gateway and Woodland Hills, Rivals.com's No. 1 and No. 3 ranked team in Pennsylvania, respectively.
Wolski and members of his coaching staff will be making the trip to Heinz Field on Friday to get a closer look at the team's next opponent.
"We'll be down there to watch the game to find out a little bit about both teams. It should be a good game. We'll have a nice representation down there."
Although the State College coaching staff will work through the weekend, Wolski stressed that he wants his kids to get away from football until practice resumes on Monday.
"We'd like them to have their minds on some other things for a few days to keep them fresh," said Wolski. "The nice thing about a week off is you get to cleanse yourself mentally, too."
The Little Lions faced a similar situation last year when they had a bye week before the first round of the playoffs. Wolski felt it gave the team a chance to reflect on the regular season and what lied ahead in the playoffs.
Circumstances are slightly different this year, but Wolski still feels the bye week comes at an opportune time.
"Some people weren't expecting us to win last week," said Wolski. "The seniors know the dream of going to Hershey is now more realistic."
Wolski understands how valuable that senior leadership will be down the stretch.
"As we get deeper into the playoffs, this thing becomes more of a marathon and you rely on leadership," said Wolski. "Our seniors have one of one of the best leadership groups in my six years here. They'll have us ready for next week."