Patriots face Ft. Dale in crucial region contest

Published 10:17 pm Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pike Liberal Arts is well aware of what is a stake Friday night when they take on Ft. Dale Academy.

With a win the Patriots (4-2, 1-2) keep their playoff destiny within their own control, a loss puts them at the mercy of other team’s results.

Ft. Dale is an opponent who has a recent history of throwing kinks in to seasons at Pike.

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In 2009, the Eagles were the only team to top the Patriots, although PLAS did go on to take the AISA state title.

Last year, Ft. Dale (3-3, 3-2), who went on to win the 3A state championship defeated Pike 27-26 to bump the Patriots from a two to a three seed and a first round home playoff game.

“Turnovers have really hurt us the last couple of time we’ve played them,” head coach Steven Kilcrease said.

The last time the Patriots came away victorious against the Eagles was in the 2008 AISA State Championship game at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Overall Pike is 4-9 against Ft. Dale with the last four matchups being decided by a combined 18 points.

“It’s like Alabama and Auburn,” quarterback Josh Starling said. “You can throw out the records. It’s always going to be a good game.”

This year’s matchup look to be more of the same.

Pike comes in on a three game win streak but only 1-2 in region play.

Ft. Dale has stumped their toe along the way as well falling to Lee-Scott, Hooper, and Monroe.

“This is a big one for us,” Kilcrease said. “We can pick up a game on them and not have to worry about a tie break.”

If the Patriots come away with a win, they could jump as high as a second seed with another victory over 5-2 Glenwood the next week.

“We can still jump a couple of teams,” said Kilcrease.

The one black eye on Pike schedule was a week two 34-28 loss to a 1-5 Macon-East squad.

“It’s kind of embarrassing,” Starling said. “They came out and beat us but haven’t played that well since.”

Macon-East would hold the tie break advantage should the Patriots fall to Ft. Dale and the Knights win another region game.

The playoff picture fog will lift a bit after this week but the Patriots know there is a tough task ahead.

With region games yet to be played against Lee-Scott (5-1) and Glenwood (5-2), Pike will have their work cut out.

“If we take care of out business and win out we will have no problem,” said Kilcrease. “But another loss would put us in a place to possibly need some help.”

Ft. Dale, as in most years, presents a formidable challange.

“They are big up front,” Pike coach said. “We’ve got to make our blocks and stay with them.”

Another weapon the Eagles bring to the table and one that Kilcrease is preparing heavily for is quarterback Chip Taylor.

“He does a good job for them,” he said. “He just doesn’t make mistakes.”

Starling feels a good start by the Patriots will be key as his team travels into a tough environment in Greenville.

“We need to jump out on them early,” he said.

“Their fans get really excited just like ours do when we play each other so we need a good start.”

Pike actually defeated Ft. Dale twice in 2008. Aside from the state title game, the Patriots knocked off their region foe 22-16 in the regular season.

“It’s always a close game when we play,” said Starling. “We both have a lot riding on this game.”