It’s been a season with a lot of bright spots this year for the NACI Tigers. Prior to last Thursday’s game, the team had two games remaining and sat with a two-win, three-loss record. And two of those losses came in close games to the league’s elite squads, Dauphin and Southwest. Compared to last season where the team only registered one win, and the year before where the team struggled to get a single win, the team’s results and on-field play continues to show signs of improvement this year. For coach Mike Davids, now that he knows how well his team can play, one of his biggest goals is to find a way to ensure they always compete at that level. “The team has been playing inconsistently as of late,” Davids said prior to last Thursday’s game. “We have been able to play the strongest teams in the league closer than anyone else has played them, but then go out and play in a fog against a team lower in the standings. “If we can fall short of Dauphin by three points and Southwest by five points, we shouldn’t be losing to Swan Valley let alone being shut out.” In their first meeting this season, NACI topped Swan Valley 38-28, but earlier this month Swan Valley responded by trouncing NACI 35-0. That drastic change in score could also in part be attributed to some Tigers injuries suffered, including the absence of Lynden Middleton who sustained what is expected to be a season-ending injury a few weeks ago against Southwest. Lynden had been a significant contributor on both sides of the ball. However, heading into the final stretch of the season, NACI is still ready to make its push into the post-season. “The team is cohesive and enthusiastic. That’s the best part of what’s happening right now,” Davids noted. Playoffs this season are ‘split in two’, with top four teams playing on one side and the bottom four facing off in a separate playoff. Prior to their final game of the season this weekend, the Tigers are sitting in the bottom four. Dauphin 32 - NACI 10 The Tigers weren’t able to keep pace with the perennial powerhouse Dauphin Clippers last Thursday, losing by 22 points, but that didn’t stop NACI from going all out until the final whistle. Offensively, NACI’s running game was able to gather 94 yards off 18 carries, but its biggest offense came late in the game when quarterback Connor Paterson started tossing out long passes that came away with big yards. Paterson threw 6-for-22 for a total of 204 yards, including a 57-yard reception in the fourth quarter to Brenden Cowan for NACI’s lone touchdown. Most of NACI’s other big throwing plays also came in the final two quarters, as did a handful of other highlights that - scoreline considered - showed the Tigers’ character, including an offensive fumble recovery by Linden Baker that moved the chains, a pair of late NACI offensive pushes stopped just short in the ‘red zone’, and an all-out defensive effort by Cowan where he made up about 20 yards on a Dauphin receiver to complete a tackle and prevent the visitors from adding to their score. Overall, the defense totaled 31 tackles, one sack and two fumble recoveries, led by Layton Dixon’s six tackles and one fumble recovery. The special teams completed two tackles.