Pike County doesn’t plan on early exit from playoffs

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 9, 2001

Sports Writer

While most first-round host teams are matched up against cream puffs to open the 2001 playoffs, Pike County will be facing the class 3A No. 9 ranked Fultondale Wildcats in Brundidge.

"Opening the playoffs at home is extremely important to us because I think that we play better at home," coach Wayne Grant said. "(Fultondale) will have to travel almost three hours to get here and that can wear a team out."

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It’s an odd situation for a ranked team to be coming into an unranked opponents stadium to open the playoffs, but the ranking doesn’t phase Coach Grant.

"Being ranked just means that someone in the state thinks that you are a good team. I know that anybody can win on any given day and our main objective is to play good, hard-nosed football on Friday night and to be aggressive."

The Bulldogs will be facing an 8-2 Wildcat team that has only given up eight points per game this season. The Wildcats have also recorded four shutouts on the year and offensively they are averaging 26 points per contest.

Pike County boasts more impressive offensive numbers than Fultondale, though, as they have scored just over 35 points per game.

This week the Bulldog offense will look a little different with Terrell Gray sitting out due to an injury and Craig Flowers’ playing time limited because of a shoulder problem. Playing in their place will be senior Joey Spikner who is making his debut as a tailback for the Bulldogs. According to Grant, Spikner will be the starter at tailback in the first round of the playoffs.

"He’s quick and he’s small so he’s going to be hard to see behind those big linemen," Grant said of Spikner, who has been a valuable asset at wide receiver this season.

Pike County and Fultondale both finished the season as regional runner-ups and are similar in several other areas. Both teams like to run the ball and can pass it when they want to.

"They have a quick tailback and a big offesive line," Grant said. "They play a 4-3 defense and their defensive line will really get after you and come forward."

Grant said that there will be a lot of things that the Bulldogs will have to do right in order to win Friday night. "In order for us to have a chance to win we will have to control the line of scrimmage and we can’t have any turnovers. Turnovers is what hurt us last year and ended up putting us out of the playoffs."

The Bulldogs, 7-3, will play Fultondale at Bulldog Stadium with kickoff set for 7p.m. with the winner going on to face either Springville or W.S. Neal in the second round.