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Pike Lib defeats Hooper

The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots took the field Friday night in their season home opener and had the chance to knock some dust off their boots.

The Patriots defeated the Hooper Academy Colts Friday night 33-10, and while the team came off the field with the win PLAS head coach Gene Allen said there were still several things the athletes needed to work on before they could call themselves fundamentally sound in the game of football.

“It was a big win for us,” Allen said. “I think we came out here and we played hard. We dropped a lot of balls the first half and we made several mistakes, but we were able to overcome them. We had a few people hurt so we have to get them back for next week.”

The team made several mistakes, including having multiple fumbles and missing key blocks that could have prevented first downs. Allen said that this was the first “true” game situation the Patriots had been in. After Fall Camp, Allen said the Patriots would usually have a preseason scrimmage, but this year that didn’t happen, but could have helped the Pats brush off first-game jitters.

“We knew we were going to make some mistakes because we didn’t get to play last week,” Allen said. “We have a lot of things we’re going to have to work on, but I was pleased. We knew that was going to happen some because when you didn’t play a scrimmage game or something we figured we would have 10 on the field or 12 on the field sometimes, but we really did play better than I expected them to. We really didn’t have a lot of problems until we had some kids come out after getting banged up.”

In both the first and third quarters, the Pats and those in attendance at DeWight Ward Field experienced technical difficulties as lights on either side of the field shut off. Time was called as the lights were turned back on, but Allen said his team had used both breaks to regroup and make some adjustments to their game.

“It was more like a long extended time out,” Allen said. “We let them take a break and get some water because we knew they were worn out. Some of them were starting to cramp, but we made some adjustments during the first quarter. The third quarter we felt like we had a good idea of what was going on so we didn’t have to change a lot. We’re just hoping to get that fixed.”

While there were a few blights on the Pats run game with fumbles here and there and a few flags, Allen said he was still pleased with the way the Pats had taken the field and continued to play well despite adversity against the Colts. The Patriots notched several interceptions into their belts Friday night, something Allen said he was thankful to see from his athletes.

“We’ve been stressing all spring and fall working on breaking on the ball,” Allen said. “I was pleased we got a few. I think we missed a few we could have got, but it was nice to see. I had to get onto them at practice the last couple of days, but it’s always good when you get some turnovers and I thought out defense played really well.”

Prior to the beginning of the fall season, Allen had said the determination for a starting quarterback this season would have to wait until the season had started and he could see how the athletes faired in real game situations. But, following the defeat of Hooper, Allen said he was still undecided on a regular starter, but was pleased with the work of both Reed Jinright and Holmon Outlaw.

“Reed came through on top after fall camp, but Holmon is getting better, too,” Allen said. “He’s still got to get used to our system. Reed made a few mistakes tonight, but I still think he played really well. Holmon did some good things. We’re going to look at film, but it’s always good to have more than one person that could play the position.”

Before taking the field next Friday, Allen said the Patriots would work diligently in practice to correct the small mistakes that haunted the Pats throughout the home opener and hope to come out on the field next Friday a rejuvenated team. The Patriots will travel to Monroeville next Friday to face Monroe Academy Volunteers, and Allen said it would be a big game for both the Vols and the Pats.

“Monroe has been on top the last few years,” Allen said. “They’re big. They’re strong. They’re physical. We know it’s going to be a physical football game. It’s going to be a tough game for us up front. We’re going to have to play well at the line and hopefully our skill guys can come through and do something. We’re going to have to catch the ball better than we did tonight. We feel like we can throw them.”

Friday’s win not only marked the beginning of a sound season for the Patriots, the 33-10 win over Hooper marked Allen’s 100th win as a coach. Allen said that while it was an honor to be recognized on the field by PLAS Headmaster Becky Baggett as she gave him Friday’s game ball, he coached for so many other reasons beyond the recognition.

“I don’t keep up with that stuff,” Allen said. “That doesn’t mean too much to me. I like winning for the kids. I would like to win a state championship again, not for me but for the kids. I like to see the kids succeed and do good.”