Patriots travel to Selma to take on Morgan Academy in season opener

Published 6:34 pm Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Despite the soaring temperatures and momentary downpours, the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots are ready to begin the 2019 season on Friday night.

After earning double digit wins for the first time since 1999 last season, the Patriots ride into 2019 looking to make a deeper run in the postseason after falling in round one a season ago.

After a strong summer, hot temperatures and rain has slowed the Patriots’ progress so far this week, but Allen feels like his team will be ready to go when they strap on the pads Friday night in Selma against Morgan Academy.

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“We are trying to practice around the weather,” said head coach Gene Allen. “The heat and the rain have been the toughest things. Trying to find time to get everything in.”

After a successful summer, it’s game week at Pike Liberal Arts. The Patriots have won five-straight season openers including last season against the same Morgan team 20-14 in overtime.

After working hard throughout the summer, Allen and the Patriots had no problems transitioning into game week.

“They carried over a lot from the summer,” Allen said. “We moved right into what we needed to be doing. We worked on all the same stuff during the summer. We haven’t been able to hit like we have been normally to hit this early with the heat index. We have had some good practices even with the high index and this week has been a pretty good week.”

The Patriots were forced to say goodbye to key seniors after last season including Jade Sikes, Max Copeland and Cody Hollis. Not only have the Patriots gotten used to a new roster, they also have gotten used to a new group of coaches. In fact, Allen and defensive coordinator Robert Rollan are the only hold overs from last year’s staff. Ryan McCollough, Charlie Schofield, Alex Adams and Nick Dubose are three of the six new additions to the staff.

“There are really only two coming back,” Allen said. “We moved Brandon (Matthews) up, who was with the JV last year. Ryan was teaching and he has done a good job for us. We have three young guys from the university and they have brought a lot of energy. We have more coaches this year than I have had since I have been here.”

With the opener right around the corner, the excitement level is ramping up, not only from the players from fans as well.

“I’m sure parents hate hearing about practice too,” Allen said. “When you get into game week everybody’s perspective changes. Players pick it up a little bit and parents get fired up. We have had a lot of positive things going on. We sold a lot of parking passes and athletic passes. The excitement level is definitely up.”

The Patriots will go up against a Morgan team that took on Fort Dale last week.

“We know that they lost a lot of good people also,” Allen said. “We have heard they are doing some things a little differently than they have been doing in the past. We have to work on everything.”

There will be a little extra on the line for the Patriots and Senators this Friday night. The two schools met up in the state baseball championship earlier in the year and with a large number of players also playing football, there will be a little more on the line.

“Anytime we get together with Morgan it’s kind of a grudge match,” Allen said. “I know they are going to be mad because we beat them in baseball. Our guys will come over and they will hear the talk so they will be ready too. It should be a very exciting time.”