Running wild

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 15, 2009

After three straight home games, the Pike County Bulldogs will set out on the road this week for a game against region foe Slocomb.

“It should be a challenge, especially since this will be our first road game, and that will mean a lot to us,” said head coach Eddie Stephenson. “We have to see if we can go into someone else’s place and respond well enough to win the football game.”

Stephenson said the Red Tops (2-1, 2-0) are an experienced team that knows how to win and how to overcome adversity.

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“They’re very talented, and they play hard,” Stephenson said. “This is a team that has won before, so they’re used to winning. We’re pretty impressed by them. They don’t quit. They were down 9-0 to Wicksburg, and were able to fight back and win 14-9, so they don’t have a whole lot of quit in them.”

Pike County (3-0, 2-0) and its wing-T offense must also prepare for a Slocomb defense that will attempt to confuse the Bulldogs by showing different defensive looks.

“Defensively, they’ll line up in a 3-4 and show multiple coverages,” Stephenson said. “They’re going to have two safeties back and their defensive line is going to try and get upfield and get into the backfield.”

While the Slocomb defense will attempt to confuse the Pike County offense, the Bulldog defense should be familiar with at least part of the Red Top offensive attack.

“Offensively, they were a wing-T team last year and they still ran that into the spring, but they’ve gone to the I [formation] some here in the season,” Stephenson said.

Slocomb’s playmaker on offense is senior running back Scottie Burdeshaw. The Red Tops will try to get the ball into Burdeshaw’s hands in a variety of ways, including a new wrinkle that Stephenson said PCHS must be ready to defend.

“Burdeshaw, their running back, is pretty fast and he’s a strong runner,” Stephenson said. “He’s had a lot of success for them. They’ve started utilizing him at quarterback in a kind of ‘wildcat’ look, so that’s just another thing that we have to prepare for and be ready to see.”

Slocomb may also line up in a spread formation, meaning that Pike County could see anywhere from zero to five wideouts on the field at a given time. The multiplicity of the Slocomb offense is something Stephenson said PCHS is working hard at preparing for.

Pike County comes into the game with plenty of momentum. The Bulldogs are unbeaten on the season, with their most recent win being a 28-0 win over Headland in Brundidge this past Friday night.

“The players are pretty focused,” Stephenson said. “They know it’s a long season and that three wins is not enough to get us to where we want to be. They’re just focused on getting better, both as a team and as individual players.”

The Bulldogs will look to make good use of that focus Friday against Slocomb, especially since the winner of the game will move to 3-0 in region play and will own any tiebreaker over the losing team.

“It’s critical game on both of our schedules,” Stephenson said. “It definitely has implications on the playoffs. So, with these region games, you really have to treat them like a playoff game. That way, if you’re fortunate enough to win and be in the playoffs at the end of the season, you have a leg up as far as seedings and home-field advantage goes.”

Pike County will travel to Slocomb Friday to take on the Red Tops at 7 p.m.