Pike Liberal begins practice with new coach, high spirits

Published 10:28 pm Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pike Liberal Arts School's Rush Hixon releases a pass during practice in Troy, Ala., Wednesday, July 31, 2013.  (Photo/Thomas Graning)

Pike Liberal Arts School’s Rush Hixon releases a pass during practice in Troy, Ala., Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (Photo/Thomas Graning)

With a multitude of outside distractions buzzing around the community, the players and coaches at Pike Liberal Arts did the only thing they could on Thursday…they went to work.

Aug, 1 marked the opening day of organized fall football practice for Alabama Independent Schools Association members, and in for the Patriots signified the beginning of the Gene Allen era. Allen is a coaching veteran, who captured an AHSAA state title at Greenville in 1994.

Allen takes over for Wayne Grant, who resigned the position officially on Thursday morning. With the opening game of the season just 28 days away, Allen said that getting off to a good start in practice is key.

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“We are going to work hard,” Allen said. “We had a great spring and a great summer, and we just have to carry that over to the season. I feel that we will be a lot better than we were last year, and I am really looking forward to getting out here and seeing what the kids have.”

Allen served as Pike’s defensive coordinator last season, and brings with him over 15 seasons of coaching experience to the helm.

The Patriots began fall practice at 1 p.m. Thursday in shorts and helmets. During the session, quarterbacks Rush Hixon and Marquese Christian led their respective offensive units through the base plays, and dropped throws to receivers.

Allen said that his players have dealt with the outside distractions well, and feels that it will help his players in the future.

“To be a good football team, you have to deal with some adversity,” Allen said. “We have some of that going on right now, but this group of kids is not letting it bother them. They will continue to work hard, keep their heads high.”

Pike Liberal opens the season Aug. 30 at Morgan Academy in Selma. Pike is 3-8 all time against the Senators, with all wins coming from 2008 and 2009.

“I love being out here on the field,” Allen said. “It is one of the biggest reasons I got in to the profession. I get excited every year when the beginning of the season gets here, and this year is no different.”