Excitement growing for Ariton

Published 7:01 pm Monday, November 18, 2019

Excitement at Ariton has increased after they knocked off LaFayette 30-12 on Friday night in Ariton.

The win for the Purple Cats sends them to the Class 2A quarterfinals. They will hit the road to take on the Leroy Bears on Friday night. It marks the second-straight season that the Cats have advanced to the third round of the playoffs. They hope to take another step forward this year after losing to Highland Home last season.

“I told them last year and I brought it up yesterday, regardless of what sport you play don’t take this for granted,” head coach Steven Kilcrease said. “It’s hard to get to this point. You may have an easier first round game, but there is no sneaking by after that. It’s special. There is a lot of excitement around campus and in the community.”

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Ariton and LaFayette had to battle brutal conditions in what was a rainy and cold evening in Ariton. After struggling with the run game in the opening half, the Purple Cats bounced back in the second half to cruise to the win.

“I thought we played well,” Kilcrease said. “It was sloppy at times. It was just a cold, wet and nasty night. I thought our guys played well. Defense, especially played really well. They didn’t complete but a few passes. The defense was the difference.

“We struggled running the football. We knew they were big up front and that sort of played in their hands a little bit. We made some adjustments at halftime and really ran the ball well.”

Bryan Smith, despite the struggles of the run game in the opening half, scored three touchdowns for the Purple Cats.

“He played well,” Kilcrease said. “Yardage wise, he didn’t have a ton of yards in the first half, but he does a good job of reading blocks.”

The Purple Cats are no strangers to playing Leroy in the postseason. The two teams met up in the second round of the 2017 state playoffs in Ariton. The Bears knocked off Ariton 35-21 and made an appearance in the state championship game.

This season the Bears are 10-2 and have picked up playoff wins against Daleville and Goshen.

“We are very similar,” Kilcrease said. “We are similar in scheme in offense and defense. We like physical football. They are big and good up front.”

The Purple Cats and Bears will begin at 7 p.m. at Palmer Stadium in Leroy.