Some near- the-end-of the-season highlights to enjoy

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 25, 2001

Sports Editor

It’s getting close to playoff time for high school football teams in Alabama.

Like last season, it appears that we’ll have three teams from Pike County once again making their bid for postseason glory. Pike County, Charles Henderson and Goshen, all are in, but where they’ll be in the first round remains to be seen.

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How about a few highlights, until then?

Biggest Hit I’ve Seen All Season: Watching CHHS defensive lineman Chaz Richards devour an Opp kick returner looked like something you see on the Discovery Channel. You know the one I’m talking about. Where the lion’s chasing the zebra and they show the clip in slow motion and Wham!

It’s all happening right in front of you. Survival of the fittest. Like the zebra, the poor Opp returner didn’t even have a chance. He paused for just a second, looking as if he would cut upfield, and then here came a flash of white and orange. Just ate him up. They had to help the kid off the field. CHHS blew Opp out 45-7 and Richards smacked his lips. Ahh, Bobcat for dinner.

Biggest Upset All Year: CHHS wasn’t supposed to stand a chance against the Bulldogs of Pike County in the preseason jamboree game, but the Trojans managed to win it anyway. While a big one, it doesn’t really compare to Goshen’s double overtime win at No. 8 Straughn. The Tigers were looking ahead to a region title game with Red Level at the end of the season, but Goshen slapped them around for four quarters and forced them to concentrate on the game at hand. The Eagles won it 28-21. While not as talented and deep as last year’s 10-2 squad, Goshen’s got one critical thing you always need on a football team – heart. Coach Joe Thornton’s only been there three years, but by far this is his best coaching job to date.

Best Quote I’ve Heard All Season: Pike County went to Eufaula for their first game of the year and got hammered, 40-7. This was also the same weekend that Troy State played Nebraska respectable. When one of our sports writer’s, Danny Moore, asked PCHS head coach Wayne Grant what happened against Eufaula, Grant replied: "I think we played Nebraska and Troy State played Eufaula."

Best Game I’ve Seen: A tie. CHHS vs. Hillcrest-Evergreen and Pike Liberal Arts vs. Meadowview Christian. The Trojans led 12-0, when the Jags cut it to 12-8 with just over four minutes to go. PLAS fought and fought against Meadovwiew but came up short.

Player Most Likely To Make You Hold Your Breath: Rod Burden at CHHS. You can compare him to anyone that you want to. David Palmer at Alabama. Rahgib Ismail at Notre Dame. He plays all the positions they’ve played. Punt returner. Kick returner. Quarterback. Wide Receiver. Plus, he’s only a junior.

Players That You Wish Had Just One More Year: Those 15 or 16 seniors at Pike Liberal Arts. I honestly believe that another offseason spent with head coach Mack Williams would have produced surprising results for the Patriots in 2002.

Interesting Match-Up To Watch In The Future: Two sophomores. CHHS quarterback Pete VanHorn and Pike County quarterback Chris Nickson. Both players could be college prospects by the time they become seniors. They’ll compete against each other when the Bulldogs and Trojans meet on the field for the next two years.

Now. games for this week:

CHHS at Andalusia: We all know what the Trojans did to Andy’s other brother. If not, just direct your attention to the first highlight in this column. The challenge for CHHS this week will be to not look ahead, seeing that they have to travel to Camden next week for a game against Region 2 leader Wilcox-Central. Getting those young players at CHHS focused this week could be hard for Coach Hugh Fountain, but come game time, thoughts of the Jaguars will disappear and all Fred Jones, Randall Maddox, Adam Helms, and the rest will see is Andalusia Red and White. CHHS 31 Andalusia 9.

Pike County at Montgomery Academy: The Bulldogs go on the road after six straight home games. Its the last Region 2 contest of the season as well, but it looks as if Pike County, obviously a much more powerful team then last year’s 8-5 squad, will finish out second in league play to Lanett. Lanett beat the Bulldogs earlier in the season 24-20. Still, a second place finish secures Pike County an opening round home game. And we see what they’ve done at home, haven’t we? Playing in Montgomery County won’t make much of a difference this week. Pike County 35 Montgomery Academy 6.

Highland Home at Goshen: The Eagles still have a shot at second place in Region 3, and maybe even first, if Straughn can knock off Red Level. But first things first. Goshen has to take care of a Highland Home team that has been somewhat sporadic this season. The Flying Squadron beat Clay County earlier this year, when the latter was ranked No. 1, and also defeated a talented Luverne Tiger team. Then they lost to Straughn 14-7 and Red Level by one point to give them two losses in region play. I give the edge to the Eagles. Highland Home 14, Goshen 21.

Dixie Academy at PLAS: Pike Lib was able to pick up their first win in awhile over a AAA opponent last Friday night by beating region foe Hooper. The season ends tonight against current Coach Mack Williams’ former team, the Dixie Rebels. And don’t think Williams wouldn’t want to end this year with a victory over a team he coached to two state titles in the early 90s. You hate to know that the season won’t be extended after tonight for the Patriots, but it’s homecoming and Pike’s seniors will go out winners. Dixie 7, PLAS 26.