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Patriots close out regular season against Monroe Academy

For the second time in five years the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots will close out the regular season against the same team they will play in the opening round of the AISA State Playoffs.

The Patriots will close out the regular season Friday night against Monroe Academy in Monroeville.

“Friday night is going to be tricky,” Patriot head coach Mario White said. “It’s a big challenge for us. They have a great program.”

The Patriots enter the regular season finale with a 6-2 overall record. They finished the regular season in second place in Class AAA Region 1 and they will face the same Volunteer squad in next week’s playoffs after they finished in third place in Region 2.

The Patriots played Lee-Scott in the regular season finale and then again in the opening round of the playoffs in 2016.

Despite playing the same team back-to-back weeks, coach White is going to coach his team the only way he knows how.

“The only way I know how to do this is go all out,” White said. “I never want to go down and say I wish I did this or I wish I did that. We play each game like it’s our last. I feel like it’s my duty as a coach to give these kids the best opportunity to win. I am going to give it everything I got.”

The Patriots had a shot at winning their first region title since 2008 last Friday when they hosted Glenwood in Troy. The Patriots fell to the Gators 26-7.

“It’s not the kids fault,” White said. “I made some horrible adjustments at halftime. Every possession was so critical. We played into Glenwood’s hands. I thought I caught them sleeping a few times, but I didn’t. I didn’t give the kids the best chance to win.”

The Patriots are 0-13 all-time against the Volunteers. The Patriots fell to Monroe Academy 27-0 in 2019. Similarly coach White and his son Mayes, while at Tuscaloosa Academy, never beat Monroe Academy.

“While at Tuscaloosa Academy it always came down to us going to Monroe or Monroe coming to us,” White said. “We played those guys twice while at Tuscaloosa Academy and both times we came out on the short side of the stick Pike is 0-13, so neither one has good history against Monroe, we hope to change that Friday night.”

This year’s Volunteer team comes into the game 6-3 overall and 3-2 in region play. They are currently enjoying a three-game winning streak after picking up wins against Fort Dale, Clarke Prep and Tuscaloosa Academy.

The  Volunteers have lost three regular season games for the first time since the 2007 season when they finished 6-4. They only lost two regular season games in that span twice.

The Volunteers are averaging 26 points per game on offense, while their defense is allowing 25 points per game.

“Coach (Mitchell) Tuberville is going to run it right at you,” White said. “He has a running back that is tough as nails. He has a great front line, which will move the line forward. They hit the right hole and run downhill. You have to prepare to defend the entire length and width of the field.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Next Friday’s playoff game will be in Troy and will also kick off at 7 p.m.