The playoffs cause anxiety in some football players, but Lexington Christian Academy senior Michael Harmon has been through the worry wringer so many times that he could probably take a power nap in the locker room before kickoff.
"I have so much experience in big games, I don't feel nervous about them at all," said Harmon, a four-year starter.
Coach Paul Rains expects the 6-foot-1, 260-pound lineman to be a calming influence as LCA prepares to visit undefeated Raceland in the third round of the Class A playoffs Friday night.
"Michael has been through just about everything you can possibly go through in four years," Rains said.
As a freshman, Harmon started at center when the Eagles beat defending state champion Beechwood in the playoffs, the biggest victory in LCA's program to that point.
Harmon remembers the pain of the Eagles' loss to Raceland in the 2006 playoffs, and the thrill of getting to the state title game last year before falling to Beechwood in the final seconds.
"Coming so close in the state finals and not winning motivates me a lot," he said.
"This is the last chance for all our seniors, and we want to get back in the big game and win a ring."
LCA needs two more wins to earn a return trip to Louisville for the championships.
Raceland won't be an easy hurdle to clear.
LCA needed a field goal in the closing seconds to beat the Rams 34-32 in the playoffs last year. When the teams had a rematch in September, Raceland won 37-35.
"We didn't come out mentally prepared for that game," Harmon said. "But we will this week."
Raceland and LCA are both juggernauts on offense.
The Rams prefer to run the ball. John Scott Carver and Bret Denton have each rushed for more than 1,000 yards.
But quarterback Tyler Boyles has also passed for more than 1,000.
LCA mixes it up more. Quarterback Lucas Witt has run and thrown for more than 2,500 yards, and Domonique Hayden has more than 2,200 yards rushing and receiving.
"Our O-line believes we can score on every play, no matter what," Harmon said. "Especially against tough teams. It seems like we score 50 or 60 on them, like we did against Hazard this year."
But when two high-scoring teams collide, defense often decides the outcome.
Harmon, who starts at defensive end, thinks the Eagles are much improved on that side of the ball, but he knows a true test will come Friday against Raceland's powerful ground attack.
While Harmon isn't nervous about the region finals, he doesn't deny it's a huge game.
"I've talked with a few seniors, and we know it'll be a heartbreaker if we lose because we've had big expectations for a long time.
"We're expecting to get back to Louisville."