Bulldogs ready for Tarrant

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 30, 2001

Sports Writer

It’s tempting to call Pike County’s 2001 football season magical, but anyone that has watched the Bulldogs compete can tell you that its success is a result of aggressive play, not luck.

The Pike County Bulldogs (10-3) have used every way possible to fight its way to this Friday night’s semifinal game against the undefeated Tarrant Wildcats.

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In the first round of the playoffs the Bulldogs defeated Fultondale, on a trick play, after falling behind 3-0 in the first half. The second round brought an even closer contest as the Bulldogs escaped Springville with a 31-28 win in a double overtime thriller. Last week PCHS held on to a 14-12 lead against Aliceville to earn a trip to the semifinals.

Tarrant (13-0) brings an impressive record into its fourth-round showdown with the Bulldogs, but PCHS has proven that perfect records take a back seat to determination and physical play.

Pike County’s first three opponents in the playoffs had a combined record of 30 wins and three losses.

"This is going to be one of our biggest challenges of the year," coach Wayne Grant said. "They have a lot of players and I don’t know if depth is going to be a problem for us. I know that one of their intentions will be to try and wear us down. We’re not going to change anything though, we’re just going to stick with what’s working."

Tarrant operates out of a spread offense and I-formation, and likes to run a quarterback draw occasionally from the shotgun.

"There’s not much weakness in their game," Grant said. "I won’t say that they’ve had trouble with their kicking game, but they’ve been going for two a lot on extra points. Fortunately we’ve been pretty good in our kicking game this year."

In the playoffs the Wildcats have averaged 36 points a game and are allowing just over 16 points on defense. Pike County’s offense is averaging 26 points per playoff game and the Bulldogs’ defensive unit is giving up just over 21 points per game.

Tarrant’s playoff run has included a 19-7 first round win over Montgomery Academy, a 32-13 win against Elba, and a 21-13 quarterfinal win over Lanett.

The Wildcats have two standout seniors in Antonio Underwood and Terry Rucker. Both have been named to the Birmingham News "Super Senior" list along with Pike County’s Thurston Lee. Underwood, a six-five, 291-pound offensive and defensive end, is also a finalist for the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s American General Class 3A Player of the Year Award.

Pike County will battle the Wildcats at 7 p.m. Friday night with the winner earning a chance to play for the 3A state championship in Birmingham against either Hokes Bluff (11-2), or Colbert County (9-4).