Cross county showdown

Published 9:18 pm Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pike County, Goshen prepare for annual Bazzell Bowl

Pike County Schools superintendent Dr. Mark Bazzell isn’t making a prediction for Friday’s game between Goshen and Pike County. However, he does know where he will watch the game from and what color shirt he will sport that night.

“These are the ball games that you find a good spot behind the end zone and watch,” Bazzell said with a laugh. “The easiest thing about this game is knowing that a purple shirt will work for both.”

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Once upon a time, Bazzell was a football coach. He knows what it takes to be successful on the gridiron.

Bazzell feels the 2014 edition of the cross-county rivalry will be a good one.

“I know Coach Holland and Coach Snyder have worked hard over the summer to get their teams prepared for the season,” Bazzell said. “I’m not going to make a prediction, but I think it will be a really good ball game.”

It didn’t take Pike County head coach Fred Holland long in the film room to find what his team needed to work on following last week’s loss to Charles Henderson.

“Everything,” Holland said with a sly grin. “We need to work on everything.”

The Bulldogs turned the ball over three times in the first half, and never dug out of the early hole against the rival Trojans last Friday night, falling 31-18. A new week and new, but familiar, opponent meets Pike County in the opening week of the regular season.

Following the preseason loss to the 5A Trojans, Holland and staff went back to the basics in order to work the kinks out of the Bulldog offense.

“We back and went over the little things that make you successful,” Holland said. “Things like protecting the football, maintain blocks and locking up on a tackle turn out to be the biggest things in a close game. If we do those things last week, we have a shot to win. If we don’t do those things this week, we won’t.”

The Dawgs will make the 22-mile trek across the county to the Eagles nest Friday night to tangle with Goshen. While the Pike County Classic is the biggest rivalry the Bulldogs play every season, Holland says the bragging rights game between his Bulldogs and Bart Snyder’s Eagles is always intense.

“Both of the schools want to win because they want bragging rights in the county,” Holland said. “Our kids have played their kids for as long as they have participated in sports. Troy (Charles Henderson) is a big game for us, but let me tell you, that Goshen rivalry is right up there.”

The Eagles came up short against McKenzie in their preseason scrimmage, but Bart Snyder says there were plenty of bright spots.

“Going in to the game, we were a little concerned about our offensive line,” Snyder said. “After the game and watching some film, we feel that we have some things to build off of. If those five guys up front work together, then we will be successful.”

Goshen is right in the middle of a brutal four-game stretch against extremely athletic football teams.

The Eagles met McKenzie in the preseason, and will play Pike County, Luverne and New Brockton over the next three weeks of the regular season.

Snyder said a win over the 3A Bulldogs will go a long way in helping the confidence of his team.

“Pike County is a very good football tea,” Holland said. “Not only are they very well coached, but they are extremely athletic. A win for us over them would be big for our guys and give some confidence that we will need over the season.”

Pike County leads the all-time series 15-3-1, and has won two straight over the Eagles.

All three of Goshen’s wins have come since the series renewed in 2008.

“This is a big game for all of us,” Snyder said. “The kids tweet, Facebook and Instagram each other all the time. This is for bragging right, and it is big.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. From the Eagles’ Nest in Goshen.