Pike County running back Calvin Marshall attempts to fight off a tackle during the Bulldogs’ Purple and White scrimmage on Friday. Photo/Kevin Pearcey

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Pike County fields 35 players in Purple and White scrimmage


Sports Editor

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BRUNDIDGE – When Pike County head coach Wayne Grant first walked into Bulldog Stadium at the start of Friday’s annual Purple and White spring scrimmage finale, he knew that the 2001 version of the Bulldogs was on the mind of more then just he and his coaching staff.

"There’s more people from Troy here then Brundidge," Grant said.

Charles Henderson High School wrapped up spring drills on Thursday, which allowed some of the Trojans’ coaches and players a chance to come over on Friday and scout their in-county rivals. CHHS and the Bulldogs will meet in a preseason jamboree in the third week of August, one week before the regular season starts.

Grant said he hopes the CHHS-Pike County game will continue to be an early season contest, even after 2001 when classification and regional realignment takes place. The Alabama High School Athletic Association evaluates the size and student enrollment of all schools in the state every two years.

"The Charles Henderson game for us, and I imagine them as well, is a money game," said Grant. "If we go back to playing the game later on in the year it could hurt both schools financially. Early on in the season expectations are higher for everybody and with that you can draw a good crowd to the game. If we wait almost to the end of the season and both of us are having bad years, nobody’s going to want to come and see that."

As the game started on Friday, more and more Brundidge residents begin to trickle into the stadium, eager to check out Grant’s third football team since returning to Pike County in 1999.

What they saw was a lot of defense, a lot of size and more depth then the Bulldogs have had in the previous two seasons. This year’s roster boasts 35 players and, more importantly, 22 down lineman. Last year Pike County fielded 21 players and six total lineman to play both sides of the football and injuries, along with lack of depth, cost the Bulldogs in several games.

"We couldn’t have a scrimmage like this last year," said Grant. "There wasn’t enough players."

Neither the Purple nor the White team could put much together offensively on Friday, but Terrell Green gave the White a 6-0 lead with a touchdown run from the Purple 1-yard line on fourth down. After a fumble by the White deep inside their own territory, Purple capitalized on the turnover with a score of their own. Fullback Joe Copes shook off several tackles and tied the game at 6-6 with 4-yard touchdown run.

Following Copes’ run, Grant allowed the players to take a brief water break and then worked the first-team offense against the second team defense for the remainder of the day.

Grant said this year’s stable of running backs won’t possess the speed like last year’s tailback tandem of Tyrone Boyd and Durane Flowers, but he feels with the size the Bulldogs have on the offensive line running the football shouldn’t be a problem.

"We’ve got some players that can run the football hard," he said. "If the line will do its job, we’ll still be able to push the ball forward for four or five yards at a time."

Grant has also been pleased with the development of Copes who moved to the fullback slot this season after playing guard last year.

"The thing about Joe is that he loves to hit coming out of the backfield," said Grant. "And that’s the kind of fullback you need in the I-formation. He’s got good speed too for his size."

Sophomore Chris Nickson worked at quarterback for both the Purple and White squads on Friday. Nickson didn’t complete many passes during the game, but did show an ability to scramble away from pressure and run the option.