Patriots head to state championship with ‘big show of support’

Published 9:22 pm Thursday, November 20, 2008

There is a first time for everything and today at 4 p.m. the Pike Liberal Arts School Patriots will experience a state championship football game for the first time in school history.

The tradition has not been lacking at Pike Liberal with men such as DeWight Ward and Delaney Kervin in the school’s football annals, but Steven Kilcrease is the man who led the Patriots to the AISA Class AAA state title game in just his second year.

PLAS booster club president Greg Avant said the Patriot community was expecting great things from the Pike alum, but not this quickly.

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“When we were looking for a coach two years ago we were looking to hire Steven and we knew he was a quality man who would be good for our kids,” Avant said. “We wanted a good coach and we thought there would be at least two years of a learning curve, so this year really surprised a lot of us.”

The Patriots have gone 11-1 in a season marked by dominating defense and smash-mouth offense. Pike headmaster Ceil Sikes said this season shows what can be done when all the pieces are put into place.

“I ran into one of my former students, Antoine Caldwell who is playing for the University of Alabama now, and he wanted me to pass on a message to our boys,” Sikes said. “He wanted to let the boys know that hard work does pay off and they will not be measured by how they do in the game, but how they handle themselves in the game.”

Sikes said this past week has been crazy at the school and she could not be any more proud to be a Patriot and a part of this community.

“We are so proud of these young men and it has been great to see those signs up and down (U.S.) 231,” she said. “We love that those people let us put them up in support of our team.”

Sikes also said the school has sold approximately 1,000 tickets for the game.

“We would have never anticipated that big of a show of support from the community,” Sikes said. “That is a lot of the alumni who will be coming back for the game, but it is also this Troy community.”

Amber Michael has been cheering in the stands and directing the cheerleaders on the sidelines this season, and she said watching the Patriots has been a blast.

“We have enjoyed cheering for these boys all year and we have loved keeping school spirit high every week,” Michael said. “It is fun to follow them and exiting to see them do so well.”

Another spectator from the stands is Sonya McLaughlin. Her two sons, Justin and Nick, play on the team and she said she is happy to have been a part of this season.

“This year has been awesome,” McLaughlin said. “I am so proud of all the boys and they deserve everything they have achieved. This game is all about them it is not about us.”

McLaughlin said she is glad her two sons have had the opportunity to play on this team together and experience such a thrill ride of a season together.

Support for a team heading for the state championship can come from anywhere and Avant is glad to say there has been support from outside the Pike Liberal community this year.

“Everyone is extremely excited for this team,” Avant said. “The faculty and the Pike Lib family are all excited. And the majority of the people around the town have been extremely supportive. That is such a good feeling to know that you have the support of the majority of the town and we can all come together.”