Inching closer: Patriots gearing up for preseason practice

Published 7:47 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Football season is on the horizon. The first local team to strap on the helmet and shoulder pads will be the Pike Lib Patriots when they open their season at home against Morgan on August 17.

The Patriots made another run to the postseason a year ago before eventually finishing the season with a 7-5 record.

Head coach Gene Allen is set to begin his sixth season at Pike Liberal Arts and the Patriots are ready to get things going.

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“There is only so much you can do in sports,” Allen said. “We have been getting some good repetitions in and good special team work. We are looking forward to getting started and where we can wear full pads.”

The Patriots are eligible to wear shoulder pads as soon as today and Thursday. The Patriots are able to wear full pads for the first time on Friday.

“We are excited we have had some pretty good practices,” Allen said. “The kids have been working really hard. We have been in the weight room every day working hard and then they carry it onto the field.”

The Patriots are still missing a handful of players due to baseball, but with that season winding down, Allen expects them to join practice any day now.

“It will be good when we get every one of them here,” Allen said. “Right now, we have a couple of them out due to sickness. We’re trying to get over all the sickness and the summer sports right now, but it’s going good.”

The Patriots have position battles to sort through as they inch their way closer to opening night. The battle at quarterback will draw the most attention after Reed Jinright graduated.

Davis Allen, Drew Nelson, Jade Sikes and Chip Faircloth are all going to get looks under center for the Patriots.

“We are still trying to work with all of them right now, trying to see who is going to be the best fit,” Allen said. “All of them will end up on the field somewhere, but we are trying to find the best one at quarterback. The rest of them will have to play receiver or running back. We are thin in a lot of areas. They are all good athletes, so they will be on the field some place.”

Having many different options is a good thing to have according to Allen.

“They are all good quarterbacks,” Allen said. “A couple are stronger in some areas and others are stronger in other areas. Once we get the personal in and we figure out what we are doing, it will be easier to figure it out.”

How they perform in pads may also be a good indicator.

“Once they get pads on it will change a little bit too,” Allen said. “It looks a little different when you have a pass rush and when you’re trying to run the ball. You can see which ones will rise to the top when you get pads on.”

The Patriots are losing key members in the backfield as well this season. Reed Johnson and TK Thomas both graduated and the Patriots are looking to find their replacements.

“We really don’t have a true running back coming back for us,” Allen said. “We have some skill guys and some receiver type guys so some of them will have to step up and run the ball some. We just have to see which one will step up and be ready to play.”