Bulldogs back in playoffs for first time since 2009Published 11:01pm Tuesday, November 5, 2013
It has been 1,099 days since Pike County stepped on to a football field in the Alabama High School Athletic Association playoffs.
For a team as rich in tradition as the Bulldogs, it has felt like a lifetime.
“It has been a while since we were in,” head coach Fred Holland said. “The kids are excited. The town folk are excited. We have had some success this year, but we are confident the best is still in front of us.”
Pike County (6-4) makes a return to post-season play this week for the first time since falling to Washington County in the first round of the 2010 playoffs. The Bulldogs have captured five AHSAA state titles, and once had a certain swagger about themselves.
While this year’s team hasn’t rolled through their competition, or cracked the top 10 in the polls, they have developed confidence. That confidence, says head coach Fred Holland, will help Pike County in the playoffs.
“You have to have a lot of confidence to play this game,” Holland said. “This group has won some games, and came together as a family. With the wins, the confidence comes. It has helped us this year, and will definitely help us in the playoffs. Those kids believe they are going to win every time they step out there.”
Pike County started the season with a rout of cross-county rival Goshen, but then fell to Barbour County and Dale County in back-to-back weeks. In week four, the Bulldogs turned their season around, and dominated region foe Abbeville, winning 28-0.
Down the stretch, Pike County scored convincing wins over Montgomery Catholic and Geneva, before stubbing its toe against Slocomb in the region finale. However, a win over a talented, playoff-bound Opp team last week has the team ready for more.
The Bulldog offense made progress over the last few seasons, but was in need of jolt of speed and power. That jolt came over the summer in the form of transfer student LaMarcus Adair.
Adair has piled up yards and touchdowns in 2013, using a downhill running style and breakaway speed to leave opposing defenses shaking their heads.
“I felt like he would be an immediate impact for us,” Holland said. “He has been fantastic for us. He is key to a lot of things we do, but he isn’t the only one. You put LaMarcus in with guys like Jerrel Lawson, Stevie Smiley, TJ Thompkins, Kamari Jackson, Ryshaun Hall and all the other guys, then your offense has a pretty good chance to be good.”
Holland played for a state championship in the 1980’s and served as an assistant coach during the Bulldogs’ impressive run in the early 2000s. He is a coach with vast amounts of playoff, and big game, experience.
Holland told his players on Monday to forget about records and rankings for the rest of the season.
“Everyone has a clean slate now,” Holland said. “You have to take it one day at a time, and try to get better every time you strap up. We have to play good, and limit mistakes. I am confident our guys are ready. We just have to execute.”
Pike County travels to Montgomery on Friday to battle 3A power Trinity Presbyterian. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. kickoff at Boykin Field.