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Saltillo looking to build off first playoff berth in a decade

SALTILLO – Last season, Saltillo made the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Now, it’s time for the Tigers to continue to build off it.

“We’re just trying to continue what got us to that point: taking care of each other as teammates, uplifting each other, being positive, focusing on the little things, everybody doing their own, individual job,” Saltillo head coach Ryan Finch said.

Last year’s 4-8 season was the first time the Tigers had won more than three games since 2014. Saltillo drew Warren Central in the opening round of the Class 6A playoffs last year and lost 46-19, but it was still a step forward for the program.

“In the past, there’s been situations where the confidence level wasn’t where it should be for a winning football team,” Finch said. “But now, our guys, they’re excited, they believe in their abilities, they believe in each other. When they step out on the field, they expect good things to happen.”

Linebacker and tight end Jackson Justice and running back KJ Robins headline Saltillo’s returning players from last season. Finch called Justice the “heart and soul” of Saltillo’s squad.

“He just wants it more than anybody else,” Finch said. “He’s vocal about it, but at the same time, when he gets out there on the field, he backs it up. He’s the toughest player we’ve got. He’s played through injuries. He’s come back from broken bones and had setbacks, but he still works his way through it to get back out here on the field with his teammates.”

Returning to the playoffs was a big step for Saltillo, but now it’s time to start over again.

“Continue putting in work,’ Justice said. “Seeing who works best in positions and just try to build off what we did last season.”

The Tigers are still months away from their season opener, but Finch has liked what he has seen so far this spring.

“I’m feeling pretty good about things,” Finch said. “We’ve had a lot of new faces and trying to put them where they can play and best help the team. The younger guys are really stepping up this year.”