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Road warrior Bulldogs head to Luverne for first round

Last Friday the Pike County Bulldogs were not playing, but practicing. Head coach Brad Waggoner said it was a little different, but relaxing.

“It has been so long since we have played, but we have had two weeks to heal our wounds,” Waggoner said. “We just have to go and take care of business this week.”

The Bulldogs (5-4) have become somewhat of a road warrior team, winning four of their five away games this season. Waggoner and the Bulldogs will try and continue that streak this week when they take on the Luverne Tigers (7-3) in the first round of the AHSAA Class 3A state playoffs.

“We have played well on the road this year, but I know firsthand that it is hard to play in Luverne,” Waggoner said. “We just want to be focused when we enter the stadium.”

Waggoner knows firsthand because he compiled a 25-11 record at Luverne in the three previous years before this season. He led the Tigers to three straight playoff appearances and won the region in his first two years in Luverne.

Waggoner said the key to the game for PCHS is shutting down quarterback Chad Free.

“Luverne will be a good offensive team and they operate around Chad Free,” Waggoner said. “He is their playmaker and he will touch the ball a lot at either quarterback or running back.”

Waggoner said the Tigers have several other weapons on the offensive side of the ball in receivers Ryan McGhee, Evan Richardson and Matthew Sipper.

“All of those guys are good players, but our key will be to shut down Free,” Waggoner said. “They like to do stuff with him out of the I and out of the spread and shotgun. They like to throw the ball.”

The Bulldogs will see a 4-4 defense from Luverne and Waggoner said they would put eight men in the box to shut down the run.

The Bulldogs have struggled scoring when the opportunities are there in the red zone and Waggoner said that has been a big focus in practice the past two weeks.

“We have been preaching that when we get plays in the red zone, we have to score,” he said. “When we get the opportunities we need to take care of business.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. tonight.