Ariton begins playoffs

Published 6:48 pm Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Coming off a bye week, the Ariton Purple Cats head to Thorsby to take on the Rebels in the opening round of the Class 2A state playoffs on Friday evening.

The Purple Cats (7-3, 5-2) finished their regular season on October 26 when they defeated Cottonwood 47-28. With a week off, the Purple Cats got back to working on themselves.

“Last week was good for us,” said head coach Steven Kilcrease. “We were able to get a little rest and spend a little time working on us. In the latter part of the week we started to introduce Thorsby a little bit, but for the most part it was working on us.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Purple Cats rode into last week’s off week on a three-game winning streak. During their win streak the Purple Cats outscored Barbour County, G.W. Long and Cottonwood 142-28.

“Early on when we were scheduling, I was back and forth with it,” Kilcrease said. “The last couple of years we have played really well after our break. I think it was a good time. We still practiced and one day was a walk through. We are trying to get our legs underneath us.”

Ariton secured a spot in the postseason for the second season in a row. Last season, the Purple Cats had one of their most successful seasons in recent memory, advancing to the second round of the state playoffs.

“I think the experience factor helps our guys coming back,” Kilcrease said. “We are playing our best ball right now and I think we are playing as well as we were this time last year. We have a tougher first round matchup than we did last year. We like our chances. I think we are team that I wouldn’t want to prepare for. We are excited about the challenge.”

The Purple Cats will be challenged this week when they take on a Thorsby team that holds a 9-1 record. The Eagles purposely scheduled stronger opponents earlier in the season because they wanted to prepare for postseason play.

“I think it helps you,” Kilcrease said. “We could have scheduled three non-conference games against teams we knew we could get a win against. I expect that it helps us and I have always thought that way.”

The Purple Cats finished their non-region schedule with a 2-1 record.

Ariton will be going up against a Rebel team chock-full of veterans.

“They are a senior-laden team,” Kilcrease said. “Their entire front is seniors. They have a 6 foot 5 quarterback that is a senior that throws the ball really well. The offense runs through him. Their better players are seniors and that, to me, is a challenge.”

The Rebels defense has held opponents to just under 12 points per game this season. They also shut out Verbena and Horseshoe Bend in back-to-back weeks earlier this season.

“Defensively, they are probably the smallest group we have played,” Kilcrease said. “They probably have the most team speed. They lack in size, but they have a lot of team speed. They are as gritty as any team that we have faced.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Susan Bentley Field in Thorsby.