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Region rematch for AAA championship

All the hype, all the excitement and all the hoopla surrounding the final game of the AISA Class AAA season will go out the window around 4 p.m.

The Pike Liberal Arts School Patriots (11-1) and the Fort Dale Academy Eagles (10-2) will lock horns and bull their way to a state championship trophy. The game will resemble a bullfight, as both teams like to line up and run the ball up the other team’s throat.

“This will be a physical football game,” PLAS head coach Steven Kilcrease said. “There will not be many possessions in this game because both teams will line up and run the football. We both have that physical style of play.”

These two region rivals met earlier in the season with the Patriots taking what Kilcrease called an “ugly game for both sides,” 22-16.

“Going into the season we knew there would be three or four games that would be tough games for us and Fort Dale was one of those games,” Kilcrease said. “We beat them and now we are going to have to beat them again if we want to win a state championship.”

To emphasize how ugly of a game both sides played in that earlier matchup, Kilcrease and the Patriots watched film of the September meeting.

“We watched the film of that game and a lot of our guys were embarrassed with how they played,” he said. “But I wanted them to see that we both played bad football. It was a very stressful game because it was ugly. We wanted them to see that neither team is the same team they were at that point.”

It may be a team they have already faced and it may be the state championship game, but Kilcrease has been trying all week to keep the schedule the same.

“We try to keep the mindset the same and of course it will be more intense because it is the state championship and there is a lot going on around us, but we have told the guys to not pay attention to the off the field stuff,” Kilcrease said. “We will not be happy to be in the game, we want to win the game.”

Kilcrease’s key to success in today’s game may be simple, but he said it is what it is.

“The biggest thing for us is field position and turnovers,” he said. “Every coach says that, but it is true and it is what truly matters. Those two factors will be huge in this game.”

Kickoff for the final game of the season is at 4 p.m. today at Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium. Tickets are on sale at Pike Liberal Arts for $8 or can be purchased at the gate for $10.