PCHS looks to bounce back in playoffs

Published 10:42 pm Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The rich postseason tradition at Pike County High School will continue this Friday night, but its how the Bulldogs enter the playoffs that may have some worried.

For the 24th time, the Bulldogs will be playing for a state championship, however, for the first time in almost half a decade, the team will be entering the second season riding a three-game losing streak.

After starting the season 4-0, including a win over then undefeated Abbeville on the road, PCHS has finished the season 1-4 with three of those losses coming against playoff teams in Goshen, Daleville and Luverne.

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All four losses came by a combined 26 points.

Now, after almost two weeks removed from its last game, the Bulldogs will prepare to get back on track when it matters the most.

“We had a really great week of practice last week and have gotten off of to a good start this week,” PCHS head coach Robert Johnson said.

“The bye week really gave us an opportunity to focus on where the team needs improvement. Our run defense was one of the areas where we needed a lot of work and I think we were able to really do a lot of good things with it. The week also allowed us to work on a game plan for what’s to come and get players healthy.”

But while PCHS may have had a week off leading into the playoffs, things will not get any easier for the Bulldogs in the new season.

The team will travel to Washington County, as it will take on another pair of Bulldogs, who were the champions of 3A Region 1 for the first time in 2010.

The Bulldogs finished with an 8-2 overall record, with its only home loss coming to Leroy in the opening game of the season.

A big part of the Washington County offense has come on the legs of 5-foot-8-inch running back DeVonta Parker, who has rushed for 1,250 yards.

Unlike the Pike County Bulldogs, Washington County will enter the playoffs riding a three-game winning streak, where it outscored its opponents 94-26.

“They have a very good team,” Johnson said.

“There are about four or five guys over there that can do a lot of really good things with the ball. I’m very impressed with their offensive line as well.

“We have been working very hard on getting our defense back to where it was in the beginning of the season. (Washington County) is going to have one of the better rushing attacks we have seen this season and so we are going to have to be ready for it.”

This is the 18th time Washington has advanced to the postseason, and the first time that both PCHS and WCHS have played each other since the two teams met back in the third round of the playoffs during the 2000 season.

Washington came away with a victory, winning 12-6 at home.

Despite the team’s recent struggles, history may be on PCHS’ side come Friday night.

The Bulldogs are 17-6 all time in the first round of the playoffs.

The last time PCHS won a first round game was back in 2007 when it defeated Aliceville.

Since that win, the Bulldogs have lost back-to-back opening round match ups, both of which were to Luverne.

Washington County is just 9-9 in the first round of the playoffs.

One of the biggest keys to making it 18 first round wins for the PCHS program is getting off to a fast start, in a hostile environment, according to Johnson.

“All the guys are ready to get out on the field and play,” the coach said.

“It will have been two weeks since we last played, and we will be about four hours away so I think it will be very important that we get off to a good start.”

Another big key will be having all his players healthy.

In the last game of the season, senior quarterback Jerrelle Bailey was held out of the game, being replaced by Marlon Meadows.

Against the Bulldogs, all hands will be on deck for Johnson and PCHS.

“Everyone is ready to go,” the coach said.

“We had some nix and bruises coming off the last game but we got everyone healthy in the bye week – and that’s going to make a big difference for us.

“This is a game that if we execute and play the way I know we are capable of playing we are going to have some good results. We just have to stay focused on this game and work hard this week,” he added.