Purple nation

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Following an unblemished regular season, the Pike County Bulldogs will begin their pursuit of a state championship Friday when they play host to Luverne.

Pike County comes in as a region champion, while Luverne enters the game as a No. 4 seed.

However, PCHS head coach Eddie Stephenson said the Tigers are no ordinary No. 4 seed.

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“I would venture so far as to say they’re the best No. 4 seed in the state at the class 3A level,” Stephenson said. “They played T.R. Miller tough. Between T.R. Miller, Straughn and Luverne, I don’t think there’s an ounce of difference between them.”

Luverne started 6-0, but lost its final three region contests to finish fourth. Still, Stephenson said the game between the two schools should be an intense one.

“This is a first-round game, but due to the nature of the match up, it should have the atmosphere and intensity of a third-round game,” Stephenson said.

One advantage PCHS has heading into the game is rest. The Bulldogs had the final week of the season off, giving them an opportunity to get healthier before the playoffs kick off.

The week off also gave PCHS more time to prepare for Luverne.

“They’re a very talented football team,” Stephenson said. “They have a lot of threats and weapons. They’re also a very big football team.”

On offense, Luverne is primarily an I-formation team.

“They really look to pound the football, and they certainly have the capability to do that with their offensive line being as big as it is,” Stephenson said.

The nature of the Tiger offense dictates that the Bulldogs must continue to play aggressive defense.

“Defensively, we’ve got to get off our blocks and really focus on running to the football,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson said the game will likely be a close affair, meaning the Bulldog offense must be efficient with the football.

“Offensively, we have got to limit our turnovers and control the line of scrimmage,” Stephenson said. “This is going to be the kind of game that’s going to come down to field position and the line of scrimmage.”