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Pike Liberal Patriots’ historic night

The players may not talk about it, the coaches may not talk about it, but the administration and all the fans definitely talk about it.

For the first time in 12 years the Pike Liberal Arts School Patriots have a region championship and for the first time in as many years they will host a playoff game this Friday. They host Marengo Academy for the first round of the AISA Class AAA state playoffs Friday night.

“We are excited, but to be honest there has not been much talk about how long it has been at practice,” PLAS head coach Steven Kilcrease said. “These guys just don’t talk about anything other than what is right in front of them. They are a very focused group.”

That focused group has turned a 4-7 record from a year ago, Kilcrease’s first year as head coach, into a 9-1 season with the school’s first region championship since 1996 this year.

“The attitude of this team is completely different at this time of year than it was at the same time last year,” Kilcrease said. “Last year we stressed that everyone was 0-0 and it was a new season because we knew we had our work cut out for us as the No. 4 seed. But this year we are on the other side of that spectrum and we are making sure our guys don’t overlook this first game.”

Kilcrease may be the man at the helm of the Patriots’ ship, but he is only worried about one thing.

“It is exciting to be the coach to get them back to the playoffs, but I am truly happy for these kids,” he said. “They have been through a lot with some of them having three coaches in three years before last year and as a coach, it has been great to see them excel how they have this year.”

The Pike community has embraced their Patriots all year and Kilcrease said the support has been phenomenal.

“The community has been great, you have Pike signs in all the yards and the alumni all want to let these kids know that they are behind them,” Kilcrease said. “And that means something to me to know that those people are pulling for us and are behind us.”

Overall, the championship season has been great to Kilcrease, but he said there are three more games the Patriots need to win for a state title.

“We knew going into the season we would have a chance to win the region,” he said. “There was a lot of excitement around this team at the beginning of the year. We accomplished that part of our goal.”

Kickoff for the game is set for 7 p.m. at DeWight Ward Field at Delaney Kervin Stadium.