Transfer Jamichael Jones leaps for the goal line under the eye of new Pike Liberal Arts offensive coordinator Arlton Hudson.(Photo/Ryan McCollough)
Transfer Jamichael Jones leaps for the goal line under the eye of new Pike Liberal Arts offensive coordinator Arlton Hudson.(Photo/Ryan McCollough)

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THE BOYS OF FALL ARE BACK

Published 10:37pm Monday, August 4, 2014

Optimism abounds at Goshen, Pike Liberal as practice gets going

The calendar has turned to August. The long wait is over. Football has returned.

Monday marked the first official day of practice for Alabama High School Athletic Association teams, while AISA schools got underway last week.

Pike Liberal Arts donned full pads Monday afternoon, and got right to work to build off a 2-8 2013 campaign. The Patriots welcomed in several transfers over the off-season, and had over 30 varsity players dressed out and going through drills Monday.

Small numbers have been an issue for Pike Liberal over the last several seasons, but head coach Gene Allen thinks those issues are a thing of the past.

“We got a pretty good group out here right now,” Allen said. “The main thing we need to do is keep them all healthy, and if we do that, I think we will be just fine.”

Pike Liberal Arts will compete in the AAA division of AISA this fall, but will be the smallest school in the upper echelon.

Despite that, Allen still feels his Patriots can make some noise when the season gets here.

“We have enough guys here now, that we are able to build some depth,” Allen said. “We can now get some guys in and give players a break. Last year we had 30 kids, but nine or 10 of them were going both ways. This year we have guys that are ready to play and contribute right now.”

Goshen head coach Bart Snyder spent most of his team’s first practice making notes on a stack of papers. Snyder was jotting things down just as quickly as he noticed them.

Some of what he wrote was good, while others weren’t.

“We are going to be young,” Snyder said. “That comes in spurts, but these young kids we have work extremely hard. They are growing up fast, and we will need them to keep doing that.”

Last fall, Goshen dressed nearly 50 players for varsity games, but 2014 will be a slightly different story.

Snyder says the teams numbers are slightly down from years past, and he expects “around 35 or 36” varsity players will make up the roster this seasons.

However, he likes the players he has.

“These guys come to get better every single day,” Snyder said. “As a coach, all you can ask of your players is for them to be coachable and willing to work. I can tell you, my guys are ready to do whatever is asked of them.”

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