Clash of the Titans

Published 7:12 pm Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Kyle Boswell forces a Lyman Ward ball carrier to the sideline in a game earlier this season. Pike will take on No. 1 Monroe Friday night. (Photo/ Thomas Graning)

Patriots look to rebound against No. 1 Monroe

As Pike Liberal Arts prepares to face the top ranked team in the AISA, head coach Steven Kilcrease knows his team must shake off last week’s disappointing 34-28 loss to Macon-East.

The Patriots fell from second down to sixth in this week’s ASWA poll but that is the last thing on the Pike’s mind. Monroe destroyed the Patriots last season in two matchups by a combined score of 72-7.

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“They beat us up pretty good last year,” he said. “They lost some players but they’ve got some good one coming bas as well.”

The Patriots were hurt through the air against Macon-East allowing 204 yards passing to the Knights.

“We dug ourselves into a hole early and did a good job of coming back,” Kilcrease said.

Pike trailed the Eagles 14-0 before quarterback Josh Starling connected with Taytom Barnes for a 37-yard scoring strike.

Nick McLaughlin scored on a 5-yard run, one of his three touchdowns on the day, just before halftime to tie the game at 14-14.

The two squads whould exchange scores until the fourth quarter when Macon-East scored to go ahead for good with under one minute to go.

“It was just one of those types of games,” Kilcrease said. “They had the ball last and made it count.”

Pike will look to avoid falling under .500 for the first time since 2007, Kilcrease’s first season with the team when they finished 4-7.

Monroe comes into Friday’s game 2-1 overall falling in their season opener to Bessemer Academy, 28-9.

The Volunteers won their next two contests by a combined four points.

Monroe, ranked No.1 in the AISA, has won their last 19 region games.

No. 6 Pike Liberal Arts has been ranked in 36 consecutive ASWA polls and have not dropped below ninth in that stretch.

The Patriots will have their hands full with a large and physical Monroe offensive front.

“They are big,” said Kilcrease. “They look to be about 250 pounds each on the O-line. We know they’ll be athletic.”

Kilcrease did mention a youthful Volunteer secondary could be an Achilles’ Heal for Monroe but said his team will need to play a more fundamentally sound game than a week ago.

“We’ve just got to continue to get better and do the things we are capable of doing,” the coach said. “It should be a good game.”

Monroe eliminated Pike from the playoffs last season before falling in the title game to Ft. Dale.

Kickoff for Dwight Ward Field is set for 7 p.m.