Ariton hosts G.W. Long

Published 8:24 pm Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Ariton Purple Cats host the G.W. Long Rebels on Friday night.

The Purple Cats (5-3, 3-2), thanks to Hurricane Michael, were forced to delay their game with Barbour County until Monday evening. It was worth the wait when Ariton knocked off the winless Jaguars 53-0.

With practice cut down to just three days, head coach Steven Kilcrease has been forced to ramp up the team’s preparation for G.W. Long.

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“We lost, you can say, two days of practice and preparation for G.W. Long,” Kilcrease said. “We fell behind, but at this point we have to do what we do and get better at it.”

The Purple Cats spent Tuesday watching video of the win. On Wednesday, the Purple Cats got back on the field for a more physical practice.

“We spent a lot of time watching film. It’s been more mental preparation for G.W. Long than physical,” Kilcrease said. “We’re trying to get some conditioning in, trying to get some of the soreness out. Wednesday was more of a physical day.”

The Purple Cats will celebrate homecoming this week. Kilcrease is doing all he can to express the importance of his players not getting distracted from their main objective.

“We are trying our best to stay and keep everybody focused on the football game, which is the most important part,” Kilcrease said. “We’ve had a good week so far.”

The Purple Cats shift their attention to a familiar face in rival G.W. Long. The Rebels are coming off a 24-15 win over Houston County. Despite the soreness from Monday’s game, Kilcrease believes his team is geared up to play their long-time rivals.

“They get excited to play G.W. Long,” Kilcrease said. “If it had work out this way, it was the best way possible. It would have been a disaster to get these kids ready to play somebody else.”

It’s a rivalry that expands well past the football field and into every other sport featuring the two teams.

“The schools are 12 miles apart,” Kilcrease said. “They are really close. Regardless of the sport you play, you’re always going to have a lot of people there. Each community takes pride in their school. We have a lot of respect for them and I think they have a lot of respect for us.”

The 2-4 Rebels are a young football team that features many freshmen playing key positions.

“Coach (Scott) Horne and his staff have done a tremendous job,” Kilcrease said. “They are playing a lot of young players. Those kids play hard. You can tell their well-coached. We know we are going to have our hands full on Friday night.”

The Purple Cats currently sit in third place in Region 2. A win over G.W. Long would keep them in the mix for a postseason berth.

“We are fighting to get into the playoffs,” Kilcrease said. “That’s another thing that has helped keep our focus. This is the most important game on our schedule right now. Next week will be our most important game on our schedule. We need both of them.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.