Pike Liberal opens spring football practice

Published 10:19 pm Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pike Liberal head coach Gene Allen had a little more bounce in his step Tuesday afternoon.

For the first time since late October, Allen figuratively took off the athletic director hat, and literally put on his tan sun hat for football practice.

Pike Liberal Arts opened spring football practice Tuesday afternoon, and despite climbing temperatures, Allen was excited to be back on the field.

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“It’s always fun to come out and toss it around a little,” Allen said. “I always get excited a little during spring, especially when you have a new bunch of kids to work with. The kids are a little tired because baseball went so long, but it is a great opportunity to put some new stuff in.”

In 2013, Allen did pretty much everything for the Patriots. After taking over the program less than 24 hours before practice started, Allen called the plays on offense and defense, with the help of a handful of volunteer assistants.

All that will change this season as Allen has brought on veteran coach Arlton Hudson to serve as offensive coordinator. Hudson was a head coach for 25 years, and led five different schools – Southside Selma, Florala, Coosa Valley Academy and Gautier (Miss.) – to the playoffs.

Allen and Hudson’s relationship goes back even further.

“We were both were assistants at Greenville in 1987 when we won the state championship,” Allen said. “He has been a head coach for long time, and we worked together a little in Mississippi when I first retired. He has 30-plus years experience just like I do. He knows a lot about the game, and I am happy to have him with us.”

Allen is a defensive coach, and prides himself on fielding stout defensive units. Hudson is an offense-minded coach, whose past teams have scored in bunches.

Hudson’s 2013 Coosa Valley team averaged 32 points per game, and his 2007 Florala Wildcats averaged over 35 a contest.

Allen feels the two styles will mesh well.

“I know his teams usually put up a lot of points,” Allen said. “He has an offensive system that works well, and he has used it a Coosa Valley and Florala. I love what he does offensively and look forward to working with him. If the offense and defense come together like we expect, things will be pretty good.”

Low numbers of players has been one of the biggest issues Pike has faced in recent years. In each of the last two seasons, the injury bug hit the Patriots hard, depleting an already thin roster.

However, as spring opened this year, Pike Liberal had over 30 players in uniform, and Allen expects the numbers to continue to grow.

“I think all of these guys will stick around and help us out a lot,” Allen said. “We have about 30 out here right now, and I know we have a couple of more that will be coming. The group we have right now got a lot of experience last year, so I am really looking to get things rolling. I can’t wait until August.”