Year in review: Bulldogs and Patriots make postseason runs after successful regular season

Published 1:34 pm Monday, December 31, 2018

Once again, the high school football season was a long one in 2018. Five local teams made the postseason and one had its best season in recent memory.

Pike Liberal Arts, Pike County, Charles Henderson, Ariton and Goshen all advanced to the postseason in 2018, with Ariton and Pike County making decent runs at a state championship.

The Pike County Bulldogs finished the regular season 8-2 under head coach Fred Holland.

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They began the season in search of an offense. After falling in their annual jamboree game against Charles Henderson, the Bulldogs were shut out by Alabama Christian 16-0.

After jumping out to a 0-1 start, the Bulldogs rattled off seven straight wins on their way to clinching their second-straight region championship. After not getting on the scoreboard in week one, the Bulldogs closed out the season averaging 27 points per game.

The Bulldogs clinched the region championship with a 51-6 win over Opp on October 19.

Following the week one loss, the Bulldogs rattled off eight wins in a row before closing out the regular season with a 40-6 loss to Sweet Water.

The opening of the postseason was nearly marred with near catastrophe after round one’s game against Oakman was delayed due to a collapsed wall in the visiting locker room, sending members of the visiting football team to the hospital.

On Monday, the game finally got under way in a driving rain storm. In sloppy and poor conditions, the Bulldogs pulled out a 21-8 win.

“It was extremely difficult,” Holland said. “We had enough plays and we did enough to overcome. Both teams played in the same thing, there were terrible conditions, but our guys pulled through.”

The Bulldogs knocked off Thomasville a week later to send them to their first quarterfinal since 2007. With a shot at the semifinals on the line, the Bulldogs had their season come to close after falling to Flomaton 12-10.

The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots had their best regular season since 2009 after finishing with 10 wins.

The Patriots dropped one game during the regular season campaign and that came in week nine’s 28-0 loss to Monroe Academy, costing them the region championship.

The loss gave the Patriots the number two seed in the AISA Class AAA State Playoffs. By virtue of the second seed, the Patriots were able to host a first round playoff game against the Glenwood Gators.

Injuries and a strong Gator run game led to a season-ending loss.

“It was tough,” said Patriot head coach Gene Allen after the loss. “They have a good football team. We had a lot of adversity that week, but it’s no excuse. We played a lot of guys and we had to move some things around this week. Some things didn’t work. We made a lot of mistakes that we don’t normally make.”

The Patriot seniors including quarterback Jade Sikes, running back Cody Hollis and linebacker Max Copeland had their hands on building a strong program and they will be missed.

“I appreciate the seniors,” Allen said. “When we started this season, there were a lot of people that didn’t give us a chance to do anything. This group of seniors played for each other. They were willing to do whatever it took for the team to win. They put the team first.”

The Patriots had three players named all-state for their performances. Grant Wilkes and Cody Hollis were both named second-team all-state, while Copeland was an honorable mention.

It was a struggle for fifth-year head coach Brad McCoy and the Charles Henderson Trojans. They finished the regular season with a 3-6 overall record, but managed to squeak into the postseason, after finishing fourth in Class 5A Region 2.

The Trojans started 1-4 over the first five games of the season with their only win coming at home against region foe Rehobeth in week two. The Trojans followed the win with three straight losses leaving them to cling to their faded playoff chances.

With their playoff hopes fading, the Trojans picked up back-to-back must wins over two top-10 ranked teams in Carroll and Tallassee, improving Charles Henderson’s record to 3-4. Despite falling in the region finale a week later, the Trojans did enough to secure a playoff spot.

The Trojans matched up with Ramsay in the opening round of the Class 5A State Playoffs. The Trojans made the trip up to Birmingham, but came back empty-handed when they fell to the Rams 36-7.

Coming off their magical 2017 season, the Goshen Eagles took a small step back in 2018, but still rallied to make the postseason.

The Eagles entered the season after having to say goodbye to 16 seniors off last year’s roster, many of who made an impact.

The Eagles dropped their first game of the season to rival Ariton, snapping a two-game winning streak on opening day.

The Eagles bounced back and got two-straight wins over Zion Chapel and Samson to go ahead of the .500 mark at 2-1. It was a season of ups and downs over the next seven weeks. The Eagles lost three straight games to fall back below .500 at 2-4.

The Eagles finished the last four games 2-2 and had to wait until the final week to learn their playoff fate.

After securing a spot in the playoffs, the Eagles fell to Cottage Hill Christian 26-0, ending their season.

The Zion Chapel Rebels finished the season with a 5-5 record in 2018. It marked the first time the Rebels finished at or above the .500 mark since the 2011 season when they finished 8-3.

The Ariton Purple Cats made it back to the postseason after finishing the regular season with a 7-3 record. They picked up playoff wins against Thorsby and Cottage Hill Christian before falling to Highland Home 28-14 in the quarterfinals.