With a first-round home playoff game wrapped up, the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots will now look to end their season on a positive note when they take on Autauga Academy in Prattville Friday night.
Unfortunately for PLAS, the Generals present some challenges offensively that the Patriots must adjust to, rather than beginning early preparations for the playoffs.
“They’re really good offensively,” said head coach Steven Kilcrease. “They spread the field just like a lot of teams we’ve seen, but they do a lot of empty sets. They throw the ball all over the place. That’s really a challenge for us defensively. We’ve got to get ready for that.”
While the challenge of facing empty sets is not completely foreign to the Patriots, it is an alignment they have not seen in quite some time.
“We worked all summer in seven-on-seven drills against empty sets,” Kilcrease said. “That’s something we’ve worked on, but we just haven’t worked on it in a while.”
The key to defending the empty backfield formations of the Generals will be defensive adjustments, which the Patriots have been working on this week in practice.
“We’ve got to make sure we’ve got our checks down in the secondary and make sure everybody is defending,” Kilcrease said. “We’ve just got to make some minor adjustments, and get after it from there.”
The Patriots must also deal with the challenge of having to play a game that has no effect on the final standings just one week before the playoffs begin.
PLAS is locked into a No. 2 seed, and can neither hurt nor help their playoff positioning.
“We’re treating this game like any other,” Kilcrease said. “That’s all I know to do. We’ve had four tough weeks and this one will be another one. The playoffs start next week, but Autauga’s in the same boat as us because they’re getting ready for the playoffs also. We’ve got some guys that are banged up that may not play before that, but that would be the only thing.”
PLAS will wrap up the regular season against Autauga Friday at 7 p.m. in Prattville.