IN IT TO WIN: Patriots welcome Escambia County Friday night for a pivotal region game on senior night
Published 3:30 am Thursday, October 15, 2015
The Pike Liberal Arts School Patriots enter Friday night’s contest with Escambia Academy in must win mode.
The Patriots (4-3, 1-3) lost a tough game on the road last week due to turnovers and touchdown-altering penalties.
“Last week hurt us a lot,” said Patriot head coach Gene Allen. “We felt like that was a game that we shouldn’t have lost. We had plenty of opportunities, but we didn’t capitalize on them.”
The loss makes this week’s game against Escambia Academy pivotal in the post-season plans for the Patriots.
“The Escambia game is a must-win game,” Allen said. “We can still make the playoffs; we just need to win the next two games.”
To do that they will need to first get by the defending AISA Class AAA State Champions. The Cougars (5-3, 3-2) sit in third place, two games behind region-leading Monroe Academy and a game-and a half in front of the Patriots.
“Escambia is going to be a challenge,” Allen said. “They are the defending state champions and they have a great team. We just need to come out and play and take care of business.”
To do that the Patriots will have to contend with a strong running attack, led by tailback Kris Brown.
“They are a running football team,” Allen said. “They have a tailback (Brown) who is really fast and he will jump up in there. He also likes to bounce it outside. He has great speed and quickness. He is going to be a challenge. We are going to have to tackle him.”
Tackling has been hit-or-miss for the Patriots. “We have gotten a lot better at it,” Allen said. “We had a couple plays the other night that we didn’t look very good. We have worked on it a lot. You can’t overrun it, you have to stay disciplined and stay in your area. Hopefully we are going to take care of that. We have worked hard on it this week.”
When going up against a successful running team the game tends to get shortened, putting an extra emphasis on each offensive possession. Allen is confident in the progress the Patriot offense has made.
“We are doing some really good things,” Allen said. “They are getting better and better every week. (Quarterback) Reed Jinright is getting better and he is getting better and knowing reads and knowing when to throw the ball.”
The Patriots. 3-1 at home this year, will rely on their home crowd to behind them in the pivotal game.
“Hopefully we will have a big crowd here because our kids play well when we have a good vocal crowd,” Allen said. “Last year we played Fort Dale here and the crowd played a big part in it.”
Kick off between the Patriots and Escambia will be at 7 p.m.