Plenty on the line: Patriots play Monroe for first place
Published 5:57 pm Thursday, October 11, 2018
First place will be on the line when the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots host the Monroe Academy Volunteers on Friday night in Troy.
The Patriots have had to juggle the poor weather that came along with Hurricane Michael and now are trying to knock off Monroe Academy for the first time in program history.
“We weren’t in school all week, so that was kind of a negative for us,” said head coach Gene Allen. “The kids are fired up and ready to go. They have taken it one game at a time and it just happens to be Monroe this week. That is always a big motivational thing.”
Both teams come into this key region game undefeated at 8-0. The Patriots have lost all 11 games against Monroe, including a 33-6 loss last season.
“It gives the players the opportunity to get that first win over them,” Allen said. “We know Monroe has a good football team. They’re going to be strong and physical.”
Both teams will have one more region game after this week’s matchup, so the winner of this game could be on their way to securing a region championship.
The Patriots are gearing up for their first region championship since 2008.
“Obviously the winner of this game could be the region champion,” Allen said. “That will ensure that you are playing at home in the first couple of rounds. That’s a big plus. We just want to be the region champions.”
The Volunteers are averaging 44 points per game this season and it will be up to a Patriot defense that is allowing just under 11 points per game to stop them.
“Obviously we are going to have to slow them down to stop them,” Allen said. “They lost some really good players last year, but they picked up a couple of really good players, so it’s going to be a challenge for us. I think our kids are looking forward to that challenge.”
The Patriots have averaged just under 50 points per game in their last three games, despite not having Cody Hollis fully active. Hollis injured his shoulder in the Patriots’ win over Lee-Scott. After returning for a few plays last week, Allen believes Hollis is fully ready to go.
“We didn’t play him much last week,” Allen said. “We wanted to get him on the field and get him into some game action. Cody is a great leader for us. He can play receiver, he can run the ball for us and he is a great returner. He is a big piece of the puzzle, so it’s great to get him back.”
The Patriots and Volunteers will kick off at 7 p.m. this evening and coach Allen expects a rowdy and excited Patriot crowd.
“I think everyone is looking forward to it,” Allen said. “If our crowd continues to be the way it’s been the last couple of weeks, our student section has been phenomenal at home games. If we get them to turn out like they have been doing for the last two weeks and keep the excitement up, I think it’s going to be a big plus for us.”