Patriots’ pride

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 20, 2009

For Pike Liberal Arts, the Patriots’ homecoming game this week against Macon-East also happens to be the biggest game of the season thus far.

The Patriots (6-1, 3-1) come into the game in a four-way tie for first place in AISA Class AAA, Region 1 with Fort Dale, Lee-Scott and Friday night opponent Macon-East.

Fort Dale and Lee-Scott will also be playing Friday night, meaning the Patriots can finish anywhere from first to fourth in the region.

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“If you win, you’re first or second in the playoffs and playing at home in the first round, at least,” said PLAS head coach Steven Kilcrease. “If you lose, you could be playing on the road the whole time in the playoffs. From that standpoint, we’ve got a chance to win a region championship with a win. Our guys know how big it is.”

PLAS would be region champs if it was to defeat Macon-East and Lee-Scott was to defeat Fort Dale. However, a Patriot loss would give it no better than the third seed in the region.

While a Patriot win is only one-half of the equation needed to being a region title back to Troy, Kilcrease said his team is not worried about the game between Fort Dale and Lee-Scott.

“We can’t pay attention to what’s going on Friday in Auburn between Fort Dale and Lee-Scott,” Kilcrease said. “We’ve got to focus on what we can handle, and that’s us and Macon-East, which is going to be two good football teams playing. We just need to take care of what we can ourselves, and just let the chips fall where they may.”

The Knights will certainly provide a challenge, with their biggest weapon being dual-threat quarterback Craig Granger.

“They run the option a lot with a really dangerous quarterback, Granger, who can throw the ball real well, but he can also beat you with his feet,” Kilcrease said. “We’ve seen some guys that are like that, but he may be the best that we’ve seen.

PLAS should be fairly familiar with the Knights’ defensive schemes, as Macon-East runs the same ‘50’ front as the Patriots.

“They run the 5-2, but they’ll mix some coverages in with Cover 2, a little man, and some Cover 3,” Kilcrease said. “From a quarterback standpoint, we’ve just got to recognize their coverage and know the reads.

While the Knights will present some challenges in terms of alignments and schemes, the Knight’s tenacity is what worries Kilcrease the most.

“The thing that I like about their football team is they may not be the biggest team we’ll see, but they play harder than anyone else we’ve played,” Kilcrease said. “They come off the football hard, and we’ve got to match that intensity. If we don’t, it’s going to be a long night, but I think our guys are up to the task.”

The Patriots and the Knights clash for playoff positioning Friday night at 7 p.m. in Troy.