Ariton and Goshen share a lot in common heading into round two

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, November 15, 2017

High school football playoffs are in full swing, with AISA playing the championship game at Veterans Memorial Stadium this Friday and AHSAA teams heading to the second round this week.

The season began, like every other, with lots of hope for success.

Charles Henderson had a plethora of senior leadership under head coach Brad McCoy. Pike County hoped to claim a second consecutive region championship and the Patriots, with a couple late additions, hoped to make headway in the always-competitive AISA.

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In the end, only Goshen and Ariton remain. Both programs have a lot in common. Each team ended the regular season with a 9-1 record. The Purple Cats’ lone loss came to the Eagles in their second game of the season, and it was loss that head coach Steven Kilcrease echoed throughout the season. The Eagles’ lone loss came to perennial powerhouse Elba, and Goshen bounced back to win their final six games of the regular season.

Both the Eagles and the Purple Cats ended their long wait of winning a region title this year. The Purple Cats won their first title since 1998 and the Eagles for the first time under head coach Bart Snyder.

Probably the biggest similarity between the two schools is the support they get from their fans. The community of Goshen is second to none when it comes to supporting Eagle athletics. Whether it’s volleyball or football the Eagle faithful come out. Ariton supporters are the same way. The small town has rallied around the Purple Cats.

Both those communities will have the opportunity watch their team at home this Friday night for at least one more week. The Eagles take on Thorsby, while the Purple Cats host Leroy.

A lot of attention has been given to the Eagles offense and rightfully so. They are led by quarterback Brock Snyder who threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s win over Southern Choctaw. Their running game also has been strong, with the Eagles rushing for 218 yards last week led by Damion Passmore’s 71 yards.

Perhaps the most underrated part of Goshen’s success has been the play of the defense. Led by coaches Michael Wilcoxin and Dee Brundidge, the Eagles have allowed just 97 points this season and never allowed their opponent to score more than 20. Those numbers will put to the test this week when they face a Rebel team that has averaged 32 points per game.

The Ariton offense has been explosive this season. They have scored less than 20 points just once and have averaged 42 points per game. Like Goshen, those numbers will be tested, as the Leroy Bears have allowed only 18 points per game this season.

It’s been since 1993 and 1991 since the Purple Cats and Goshen have advanced beyond the second round of the state playoffs. And if both teams keep winning they could meet Dec. 1 in the semifinals.

Kickoff for both Goshen and Ariton is scheduled for 7 p.m.