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PLAS blasts CCA in preseason action

In a preseason matchup between 2009 AISA Class A runner-up Crenshaw Christian and two-time defending AISA Class AAA state champion Pike Liberal Arts, it was the Patriots who proved their worth Friday night.

PLAS dominated CCA in every facet of the game, racing to a 26-0 lead at halftime before going on to win 48-8.

In previous years, the preseason tilt between the two schools had been a tight affair, but that was not the case Friday.

“It is just a jamboree, but this is a lot better start than we’ve had in the past,” said PLAS head coach Steven Kilcrease. “I’m proud of our guys and how they came out tonight. I feel like they had hit a wall in practice. They were at a point where they just wanted to play somebody else and hit somebody else because they were tired of hitting each other, and I think that showed tonight.”

The Patriot defense forced the Cougars to go three-and-out on their first possession, which was followed by Nick McLaughlin running 55 yards for a touchdown on PLAS’ second offensive play.

The Patriots never looked back from there, scoring on touchdown runs of 46 yards from Taylor Stephens, a McLaughlin 32 yard score and a 73 yard touchdown pass from Blake Floyd to Sam Carroll.

The only time the Patriots did not score in the first half was when they drove to the CCA 6 with 20 seconds left in the half, but elected to let the clock run out.

The Patriots continued to score in the second half, racking up 20 more points.

One of the touchdowns came on a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown by Kyle Boswell, in which Boswell tightroped the sideline and broke several tackles en route to the end zone.

Taytom Barnes took over as the offensive workhorse in the second half, rushing the ball 10 times for 118 yards and a touchdown.

Perhaps the only negative sign for the Patriots was penalties. PLAS had nine penalties for 85 yards.

“They showed a lot of intensity tonight, but there were a lot of penalties,” Kilcrease said.

“That was our big negative tonight, but we’ll go back and look at the film and figure out how to get better. I can accept the hustle penalties, but we have got to get our hands inside to cut down on the holding calls and really pay attention to the snap count to cut down on the procedure penalties. We’ve got to correct that, and we will starting Monday.”

Three different Patriots played quarterback with the first-team offense in the first half, as Blake Floyd, Josh Starling and McLaughlin all got a look under center.

Both Starling and McLaughlin were 0-1 passing, but Floyd was 2-2 for 86 yards and a touchdown.

“We feel like we can throw the ball more this season,” Kilcrease said. “We’ve got a lot of skill guys and a lot of weapons on the outside, and we need to use that, so we will be looking to throw the ball more this season. We’ll look at the film and evaluate their performance, and from there, we’ll be able to cut back on some of them, but all three of them will have different packages where we play to their strengths.”

Now, PLAS must turn its attention to new region foe Lyman Ward, an opponent Kilcrease said he is highly unfamiliar with.

“I’ve seen a couple of films on them from last year, but that was last year,” Kilcrease said. “I have no idea what to expect from them. They’re a military school, so you don’t know what you’re going to get each week, much less each year. We’ve done everything imaginable in the preseason on both offense and defense, so we should be ready to go.”