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Bulldogs host Oakman

Playoff football has arrived in Brundidge. The Pike County Bulldogs will host Oakman on Friday in the opening round of the Class 3A State Playoffs.

The Bulldogs secured a home playoff berth after winning their second region championship in three seasons. They finished with an overall record of 8-2.

“We are very excited,” said head coach Fred Holland. “Our guys have done enough to get into the playoffs and I’m proud of them for that. It’s good to be able to host the game and not have to travel. It gives us more time to work on our opponent. I think our guys have done that.”

Holland hopes that playing at home will give his players an added advantage over the Wildcats.

“It’s very important,” Holland said. “It kind of gives you an edge to play at home in front of your fans. Our kids are very excited about it. Being able to prepare and play another game shows that their hard work through the summer and the season has really helped.”

The Bulldogs had a minor step back when they fell to the Sweet Water Bulldogs 40-6.

“We just got outplayed,” Holland said. “You have to learn how to handle success. We had a hard time doing that. It shows that every week you can get beat. We learned a valuable lesson about preparing. We got outplayed on offense, defense and special teams. Hopefully our guys learned a lot from that.”

No coach likes to lose any game, but the timing of the loss provided the Bulldogs a key lesson right before the start of the postseason, where every mistake is magnified.

“You hate to learn like that, but it’s a lesson well-learned,” Holland said. “Our kids have learned that no matter what you did last week, it doesn’t have anything to do with preparing for the next week. I think our guys learned a valuable lesson. You don’t want that to happen in the playoffs.”

The Wildcats finished in fourth place in Region Four this year, finishing with a region mark of 4-3 and an overall record of 5-5.

Like the Bulldogs, the Wildcats are also coming off a season-ending loss. The Wildcats fell to Corner 13-12.

The Wildcats averaged 23 points per game in the regular season, while their defense allowed 20.

“They have a big line, a big quarterback and a big running back,” Holland said. “They really rely on that back to do everything for them. He is about 5’ 11 inches, 220 lbs. and we are going to have our hands full trying to slow him down.”

The Bulldogs spent their Thursday preparing in rainy conditions.  With similar conditions forecasted for today, the Bulldogs have expressed the importance of ball security.

“We had a game earlier in the year against Abbeville where it rained a lot,” Holland said. “We made a lot of mistakes. Hopefully getting out here today and being able to see this and knowing the field is going to be wet tomorrow, it’s very important that you take care of the ball. We are going to have to learn to deal with it. We both will be in the same situation and it’s something we are going to have to deal with as the game goes along.”

Kickoff between the Wildcats and Bulldogs is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Bulldogs Stadium in Brundidge.