Patriots aim to get healthy for match up against Northside Methodist

Published 6:28 pm Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots were banged up leading up to and during their 48-23 loss to Freeport Last Friday night. With a handful of players back in the lineup, the Patriots hope to get back on the winning track when they host Northside Methodist in the regional opener on Friday night.

The Patriots were without a few players before they kicked off against Freeport including Davis Allen, Jaquavian Johnson and Holt Steed. Despite getting banged up in their loss, Allen hopes to get a few key players back this week.

“We had a lot of guys not play because of injuries,” said head coach Gene Allen. “We had players in there last week that were thrown in there at the last minute. We are a little thin right now, but we have a couple back, so hopefully we will be able to improve a little bit.”

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The Patriots defense has allowed a total of 70 points in the last two weeks and a lot of the opponents’ success has come on the ground thanks in large part to poor tackling by the Pike defense.

“Bottom line is we have to tackle a lot better,” Allen said. “We haven’t done that well at all the last two weeks. Some of it is lack of experience, but a lot of it is because we don’t do it in practice. We are kind of limited in what we can do practice wise. We want to keep (the players) on the field. We have done more tackling this week.”

Despite losing two in a row, the Patriots’ pursuit of their fourth consecutive playoff appearance is still on track. They begin region play on Friday night. Region record will determine the playoff teams and the Patriots hope to be in the top four of region 2.

“Whether you’re 3-0, 1-2, or 0-3, everybody is starting 0-0 right now,” Allen said. “We are starting the games that matter.”

Northside Methodist is the largest AISA school in the state and it shows on the football field. The Knights will dress between 60 and 65 players on Friday night, which will undoubtedly test the depth of the Patriots.

“We knew they were going to gain players when Northview and Dothan combined,” Allen said. “They have a lot of players. They have a good team, but the biggest advantage they have over most AISA teams is their numbers.”

The Knights enter the game 1-2 on the season and are coming off a 44-26 win over Lakeside last Friday night.

The Knights are primarily a run team and Allen expects them to try and exploit the Patriots’ recent struggles in stopping the run.

“They’ll run out of the spread and get under the center in the I-formation,” Allen said. “We are going to see a lot of things that we have seen. The last three weeks we have been hurt more with people under center running straight at us, so we know we are going to get some of that.”

Defensively, the Knights have allowed 84 points over the last two weeks.

“They are pretty much running a split four,” Allen said. “They do a pretty good job of that, so we are going to have to know our assignments and catch the football.”

The Patriots beat the Knights 45-17 last season in Dothan.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.