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Ariton opens 2020 season at home against Dale County

At long last the 2020 high school football season will get underway for the Ariton Purple Cats on Friday night when they host Dale County at Robert F. Zumstien Stadium.

For the third consecutive season the Purple Cats will open the season against the Dale County Warriors.

“This game is going to help us win or lose,” head coach Steven Kilcrease said. “Playing that type team, it’s going to be a physical game. I think it’s going to be a challenge for us, but I like coming out of the gates playing good teams.”

The Purple Cats have fallen to the Warriors in each of the last two season openers, but ultimately Kilcrease believes those games have helped springboard his team to future success.

“It has made us better each year,” Kilcrease said. “Last year was a close game, but they put it to us late in the game. I think it’s a challenge, but I think it prepares us for region play.”

Robert F. Zumstein Stadium will have limited capacity beginning on Friday night. The number of tickets that will be sold will be 750 but that will not include reserved seats or seats reserved for the band. Players on both teams as well as cheerleaders and band members will each be given 2 tickets. Anything left over after that will be general admission. Gates will open at 5:30 p.m.

“If it weren’t for the restrictions this place would have people falling over the gates to get in,” Kilcrease said. “Everybody is ready to get out and do something. We are having to cut back on the number of tickets we can sell but that’s where we are right now. The community is excited.”

The Purple Cats, like many other schools, have had limited amount of time to get ready for the opening. Ariton has spent very little time doing much tackling this summer. Because of that there will be some question marks when the game kicks off on Friday night.

“I don’t know a coach that likes the first game,” Kilcrease said. “There is always an element of surprise. You never know what you’re going to see. It’s exciting, but at the same time, do you have everything covered?”

Due to the threat of COVID-19, there will be an added challenge this year.

“There are a lot of things as a head coach that you worry about,” Kilcrease said. “We are just ready for a game, we are ready to play. We try to not have to worry about all that. We want to worry only about football.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.