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PLAS looks to stop explosive Rebel offense

Today at 1 p.m., Pike Liberal Arts will attempt to bring home a second straight AISA Class AAA state football title.

The only thing standing in the Patriots’ way is Bessemer Academy.

While the Rebels are solid on both sides of the ball, it is undoubtedly the spread-oriented Rebel offense that has PLAS head coach Steven Kilcrease worried.

“They line up in the gun, they spread you from sideline to sideline and they’ll stretch the field all the way down vertically, and that scares us,” Kilcrease said.

Bessemer’s spread offense puts the Rebels in a position where the best athletes on the team have the ability to make moves in the open field, something PLAS will have to contain if it hopes to bring another state title to Troy.

“We’ve been working all week trying to limit the space that they’ve got,” Kilcrease said. “We’ve got to get people to the football. If we don’t, it’s going to be hard in the open field one on one with some of these guys. Our guys realize that. We’ve got to gang tackle and get them before they get started. That’s easier said than done, but that’s what we’re looking to do.”

Fortunately for the Patriots, they are somewhat familiar with Bessemer’s offense. The Patriots and Rebels clashed back on Oct. 16, a game that PLAS won 23-14.

Kilcrease said the scheme that held Bessemer to 14 points last time will be the scheme fans can expect in today’s game.

“We’re doing a few things different, but our base defense is what we showed them last time and that’s what we’ll be in most of the time this time,” Kilcrease said. “We’re not going to change much. We’re just trying to get better at what we do.”

The coaching staff also played a huge role in preparing for Bessemer’s offense this week in film study.

“We’re trying to see if we can find anything at all to help our guys out,” Kilcrease said. “Our guys are fairly familiar with what they like to do offensively, now it’s just a matter of stopping it.”

In the end, the game could come down to field position, meaning that preventing Bessemer from eating up big chunks of yardage will be paramount.

“We’ve got to contain them and limit their big plays,” Kilcrease said. “They’ve also got an excellent kicker, so we’ve got to try and find a way to win that field position battle. We have to keep them with a long field, but if we give them a short field, we’re in trouble.”

Pike Liberal Arts and Bessemer Academy kick off today at 1 p.m., with the winner taking home the AISA Class AAA state championship.