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Bulldogs face defensive minded Yellow Jackets

Sports Editor

One team comes into tonight’s contest hoping to continue on the road to Birmingham and possibly claim its first state title in 12 years.

The other team has been there recently.

Aliceville claimed 3A state titles in 1997 and 1999, while the Pike County Bulldogs won two state championships, although at the Class 4A level, in 1988 and 1989.

Tonight’s 3A quarterfinal playoff game will kickoff in Aliceville at 7 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets come into the game averaging over 30 points per game, while its defense is limiting opponents to 3.8 per contest.

It’s Aliceville’s defense which concerns Pike County head coach Wayne Grant.

"Speed-wise, on the defensive line, they’re going to be quicker then us," he said. "And they may be taller. They like to send linebackers and cornerbacks on defense. They’ll put a corner on the defensive line and bring him and try to cover the secondary with two people."

Which is where quarterback Chris Nickson will be called on heavily to make the right decisions.

"What they’re (Aliceville) gambling on is that you won’t have time to get the ball off," Grant said.

On offense, the Yellow Jackets like to run the ball and they do it with four different running backs. Donte Colvin, Clifford Bishop, Donnell Taylor and Marcus Taylor all spend time in the Aliceville backfield. The Yellow Jackets are averaging over 266 yards per contest.

"They do the same thing with the wide receivers," Grant said."Their similar to us in that they play a lot of people both ways."

According to Grant, Aliceville likes to play "ball control" offense.

"They run the ball a lot," he said. "If they can run it and get yardage, they will, but they’ll pass to. In other words, their idea is ‘if we don’t get

first down, we’ll punt it and play defense.’ Their defense has been their strength all season and has scored some points for them."

The Yellow Jackets remind Grant of two teams the Bulldogs have already faced this season.

"Defensively, they remind me a lot of Fultondale," he said. "They come in on you real hard. They also line up like Eufaula did and come straight at you. But, as far as size goes, they’re bigger then Eufaula is up front and extremely quick."

Pike County was beaten by Class 5A Eufaula in the opening game of the season, 40-7. The Bulldogs beat Fultondale in the first round of the playoffs, 7-3.

A win tonight and the Bulldogs will face either Tarrant or Lanett in the semifinals. A Lanett win will mean Pike County will have to travel to Lanett for the second time this season. Lanett edged the Bulldogs 24-20 in a region contest earlier this year.