PCHS look to get back on track

Published 9:14 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The end of the season has not panned out the way the Pike County Bulldogs had hoped it would.

Since starting the season 4-0, the Bulldogs are 1-3 in their last four games, with its only win coming against Opp, who has a losing record.

The Bulldogs’ opponents so far this season have a combined record of 36-28, yet, the Bulldogs have only defeated a team with record above .500 twice, Notasulga and Abbeville.

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As it turns out, the PCHS win over Opp was more than just another midseason region victory.

Thanks to consecutive losses to Daleville and Luverne, the Bulldogs are currently sitting at 3-2 in the 3A Region 2 standings, 5-3 overall, which is good enough for the fourth and final playoff spot.

Opp is currently in fifth place, with a 3-3 region record.

In both the Daleville and Luverne games, the Bulldogs had sizable leads late, however, were unable to hold on.

Now, PCHS will look to end its regular season on a positive note before the playoffs begin in two weeks.

“We have had a good two days of practice,” head coach Robert Johnson said Tuesday night.

“The guys are a little down (after last week) but we are just going to have to get after it and try to get back on track for Friday’s game.

“The past two weeks, we were unable to hold on to the lead and it just comes down to being able to execute better. Our guys know that, we have to do a better job of stopping teams on defense. The past couple of weeks have been tough, but that’s football,” the coach added.

As for the regular season finale, the Bulldogs will be taking on the Geneva Panthers.

In the past four games against Geneva, the two teams have split, winning once at home and away, respectively.

In 2009, the Bulldogs held on to a 13-12 victory on the road over the Panthers.

Due to the realignment of the region, the Bulldogs will have to make the trip again this season, as previous home and away game records were started over.

To help right the ship, Johnson and his team have made a list of areas where the team needs improvement on as it reaches the finish line of the regular season.

“I don’t know that the recent losses have made the guys weary but they are all eager to get back on the field and get back on track,” the coach said.

“We have been working on the fundamentals a lot lately, stuff like ball security, blocking, kickoff returns and tackling.

“A win this week is very important for the team, I think. Not so much for going into the playoffs, but just to end the season on a high note. We are not concerned about what will happen in the next couple of weeks – we are just concerned about this next game.”

One of the biggest keys to the success early on in the season for the Bulldogs was its ability to stop other teams.

Only Abbeville scored more than 25 points against the PCHS defense in the first four games.

Since that game, the Bulldogs have allowed 25 or more points four-straight times.

“We have to improve the run defense,” Johnson said. “We are still trying to work on our fundamentals and our techniques, defensively.”

Another aspect that has not helped the Bulldogs in their recent struggles is the injuries sustained to quarterback Jerelle Bailey.

In both the previous two losses, the senior has been unable to finish the game with a neck injury against Daleville and a foot injury against Luverne.

“Jerelle is a little banged up but will be OK,” Johnson said.

Behind Bailey, is Marlon Meadows, who has seen a good amount of time behind center.

Should Bailey be unable to go, Meadows will be ready to lead the team, according to Johnson.

“Marlon is a very capable of running our offense. We would have to change some things up for him because he is a bigger guy than Jerelle and has a strong arm but we have a lot of confidence in Marlon.”

The Bulldogs will aim to take down the Panthers Friday night, on the road, with a kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.