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Bulldogs travel to Birmingham

At 8 a.m. today, the Pike County High School football team will depart for Birmingham to take on Oneonta in the state championship game.

Both teams sport 13-1 records, and the game will be the first of six championship games to be played over the next three days. Pike County plays at 3 p.m. today, and for the few people not packing the four chartered fan buses, the game will be available on WTBF in Troy and WRJM UPN-67.

The prevailing sentiment for the Bulldogs is one of excitement.

"I’m excited about going up there," senior tight end Nick Walker said. "This is what we’ve worked for since we were sophomores."

Pike County has won two state championships in its history, but those were quite a while ago. The two titles came in 1988 and 1989, and both were 4A titles. A win today would give Pike County its first 3A title.

Pike County is an offensive juggernaut. Quarterback Chris Nickson leads the team in every category except receiving. He has thrown for 2,482 yards and 42 touchdowns and run for 1,340 yards and 20 more scores.

His favorite targets are Walker, who has caught 66 passes for 1,014 yards and 14 touchdowns, and Elijah Daniel, who has caught 54 passes for 851 yards and 11 scores. Chris Bell has also caught 26 passes for 479 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Oneonta, though, is a quick team who does not allow many points. Oneonta has pitched four shutouts and allows only eight points per game on average.

"They’ve got to be a good team to be in the championship game," Pike County head coach Wayne Grant said. "You can’t be 13-1 without being pretty good."

Pike County got to the championship game by defeating Tarrant, the team who put the Bulldogs out of the playoffs two years ago, and defending state champions T.R. Miller in the last two weeks. Both games came down to last-minute plays for the Bulldogs.