Bulldogs recovered after 0-3 start
Published 12:00 am Friday, November 9, 2001
It’s not surprising to many people that the Pike County Bulldogs are 7-3 on the season, or that they are in the playoffs, or even that they have been ranked as high as number nine in the state.
What was surprising to most was the way that the Bulldogs started the season at 0-3, counting the preseason loss to Charles Henderson.
"Some people got down on us after we lost three games. Some of the players got down too, and their spirits were pretty low," Grant said. "But we started fighting back and started winning and the players started believing in themselves. That’s a big part of winning is believing that you can get the job done."
Grant said after the inexperienced players got a couple of games under their belt, the Bulldogs started to get better.
The Bulldogs first loss, 40-7, came at the hands of the 5A Eufaula Tigers which finished the season with an 8-2 record. The second loss was a 24-20 heartbreaker to Lanett that still has Coach Grant reeling.
"We knew that they (Lanett) had a lot of returners from last year and we knew that they were big and strong, but that wasn’t the difference in the ball game. We made crucial mistakes in the kicking game that we shouldn’t have made, and that ended up costing us the game. Without those mistakes I think we would have won the ball game," he said.
Pike County could get a rematch with Lanett in the ‘Battle of the Bulldogs part 2’, if each school continues to advance into the playoffs.
This year’s team has playoff experience and could go deep into the playoffs if they can get past a tough Fultondale team in the first round.
"I think that last year’s experience has taught us that you have to play hard every night and not have turnovers," Grant said. "I hope that we’ve learned from our mistakes last year, and know that we can’t turn the ball over and win."
Last year in the first round Grant made a move that nobody can question and a move that proved to be a major contributor to Pike County’s success. He moved freshman Chris Nickson to starting quarterback.
"Chris has played real good this year," he said. "I knew that our success in the future would depend on the quarterback position and how our quarterback would react. We wanted to let him go ahead and get some big game experience and I think that this year we’ll fair better because of that."
Pike County lost plenty of speed at tailback last year, but have had several dependable backs step up this season. Terrell Gray, Craig Flowers, and Joe Copes have all been effective this year.
"We didn’t have the break away speed that we needed to break some of the long runs, but Gray and Flowers gave us a good 1-2 punch. We were hurt in the Stanhope game because they both were out, and we didn’t have an experienced back to run the ball," Grant said.
An early season injury to Jeremy Lampley worried Grant as to how his team would adjust to the senior’s absence on the field. But Grant said that his younger players has stepped up and did a good job.
"I guess the loss of Jeremy hurt us more in experience than anything else. He had been on the line for a long time and he knew all of the blocking schemes and he helped the younger players out. He’s still a good leader, and even though he’s injured he’s still around everyday," Grant said.
"I think Thurston Lee has been the biggest leader. He has provided some good senior leadership for us. Chris Nickson and Cedric Lee have stepped up and done some good things for us. "Big Ced" has been here everyday," Grant said.
"We have a really good group of players, and for the next two or three years we may still be pretty good around here."