Patriots O-line leads charge

Published 7:39 am Tuesday, September 27, 2011

While quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers rack up yards and touchdowns, the men in the trenches are usually doing all the dirty work.

Things are no different at Pike Liberal Arts where the offensive line has opened holes all season allowing running back Nick McLaughlin to rush for over 1,000 yards in just five games this season.

McLaughlin has totaled 1056 yards and 13 touchdowns.

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“These guys are getting better each week,” McLaughlin said. “We started a little shaky but I think we are peaking at the right time.”

Pike was forced to replace three starters from last season and have battle through some injuries this season but seem to continue pound opponents on the ground.

“That’s where it all starts,” head coach Steven Kilcrease said. “You’ve got to win the battle up front to win the game.”

While the Patriots haven’t won every game this season, tackle Alex Pierce feels the team has a lot more to prove.

“We lost two games early,” he said.

“After Monroe, we got to practice and made up our minds to work as hard as we could everyday. We told the defense not to take it easy on us for one play.”

That philosophy has paid off of late, Pike is 2-0 since the loss to Monroe outscoring their opponents 72-20.

“We have a lot of leadership,” said Will Sanford. “We’ve pushed each other to be better.”

With only two games under new offensive coordinator Wayne Grant, the Patriots feel they can already see a difference.

“Coach Grant has really challenged us to improve,” said center Evan Bagby.

The linemen said last week’s 45-20 win over Hooper was their most complete game to date.

“We didn’t miss too many blocks,” guard Clay Smilie said. “ Everyone did a good job opening holes and staying with their blocks.”

Pike will take on Prattville Christian Friday in a rematch of last season first round playoff game. The Patriots were victorious, 34-16.