Williams, Patriots off and running

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 3, 2001

Sports Editor

When the Alabama Independent School Association dropped the green flag on Monday for the start of varsity football practice, Pike Liberal Arts School head coach Mack Williams didn’t waste anytime in getting the Patriots on the field and gearing up for the 2001 season.

Williams, named head coach in the spring following the retirement of DeWight Ward, has been putting his players through two practice sessions a day since Monday, culminating this morning with an 8 a.m. breakfast at Patriot Field.

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"This the way I’ve been doing things since I’ve been coaching and it’s the only way I know how to do it," said Williams, who came to Pike Lib from Lowndes Academy. "But I’ve been real pleased with the players attitude since we started. They’ve responded real well."

Williams said the team will not practice again this afternoon, following today’s 5 a.m. session.

"We like to use Friday as a reward day," he said. "It gives them something to look forward to on Monday and go hard during the week."

PLAS has not enjoyed a winning season since 1997 when the Patriots posted a 6-5 record. Since then, Pike Lib has sandwiched a pair of 2-8 campaigns in ’98 and 2000 with a 3-7 effort in 1999.

Williams doesn’t make any promises about the upcoming year, other then fielding a well-conditioned football team. The Patriots spent much of the offseason lifting weights and getting stronger in order to compete in what Williams calls, "the toughest AISA schedule in the state." Classified as a 3A school, Pike Lib usually finds itself going up against larger private schools, who can field double the amount of players that the Patriots have.

"There’s just such a broad range of numbers in 3A," said Williams. "And we’re one of the smallest in this classification. But I knew that when I came here."

PLAS returns 14 seniors to the roster this season, including starting quarterback Layton Sanders, No. 1 receiver Druid Conrad and top rusher Bill Hughes.

"We’ve got a strong senior class, but I’m a little disappointed with the numbers we have in the sophomore and junior class," Williams said. "We did have about 20 freshmen and eighth graders to come out this year and I’m happy with that."