[By Stephen Amason, Special to ETSN.fm]

Who would have thought that when Huntington added a football team, it would take the Red Devils 36 years to get their first playoff berth?

Many coaches have tried, and many have failed to be the first coach to get Huntington to the postseason.

In just his second year as head coach, Jim Kerbow is the first to lead Huntington beyond the regular season.

“It’s awesome for these kids, they put a lot of work into it, it's good for that work to pay off,” Kerbow said. “The community is excited, our administration is excited, the student body is excited. This is big deal to them, it’s been 36 years and never been in the playoffs, this is an exciting time to be in Huntington.”

Although Kerbow has only been with Huntington for a short time, he’s given the Red Devils some extra firepower.

“When I got here we got them into the weight room,” Kerbow said. “We instill some discipline into the kids and taught them the right way to do things. We taught football fundamentals and basic football stuff, but the big thing is the weight room. That’s really our emphasis. We look like a different football team than we did last year, just because we’re bigger, faster, stronger. It’s really shown up in ballgames. They’re more confident, and they play harder because they’re more confident.”

Huntington managed to reach the playoff with a record of just 3-7, and now that it’s gotten over the hump, the Red Devils are met with the task of advancing in the playoffs.

That challenge begins with West Orange-Stark (6-4) in the first round. The Mustangs have played in four consecutive state championship games, and comes in as the District 10-4A Division II champions.

The two teams meet Thursday night in Porter at Texan Drive Stadium. For the Red Devils, they know who’s in front of them and are ready to get their first taste at playoff football.

“They’re contenders every year,” Kerbow said of West Orange-Stark. “We’re just gonna have to play mistake-free football, do our thing, take advantage of situations, and hopefully in the end be on the winning side of that.”