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Purple Cats hit the road to play Isabella in opening round of the playoffs

The Ariton Purple Cats had to win-out in their last three region games of the season to fight their way into the playoffs. They now set their sights on the Isabella Mustangs, who they will play on the road on Friday.

The Purple Cats finished the season 5-5 overall and 4-3 in region play. This marks the sixth consecutive season that the Purple Cats have advanced to the postseason.

The Purple Cats scored an average of 29 points-per-game while allowing 27 points-per-game. In their four straight losses against top region teams, they were outscored by a margin of 163-89. However, in their last three games, they outscored their opponents 120-38.

The Purple Cats are coming off a by week. In their last game they defeated region opponent Cottonwood 40-6.

Head coach Steven Kilcrease felt very good about his team during the preseason but was also aware of the competitiveness of their region.

“We knew we had a chance, but that we were playing in arguably the toughest region in the state,” said Kilcrease. “We knew how hard it was going to be.”

Kilcrease talked about how his players were down but found new life after their last three wins to close out their season.

“We went through that four-game skid, three of those being region games…the morale was low,” said Kilcrease. “For us to battle back and find a way to make it into the playoffs, it means a lot.”

Kilcrease is optimistic going into the game and believes that everyone now has a clean slate.

“I say it every year, it doesn’t matter if you are the first-seed or the fourth-seed, everyone now has a record of 0-0,” said Kilcrease.

Kilcrease talked about Isabella’s special teams unit, and how effective they are at influencing a ball game. 

“We can’t give up any big plays on special teams,” said Kilcrease. “They [Isabella] are really good at special teams, and have won several games with blocked kicks and onside kicks.”

Isabella scored an average of 26 points-per-game while only allowing 16 points-per-game. The Mustangs, (8-1, 6-0), won their region championship by a slim margin of one victory over Highland Home.

These two teams have never met before on the field, and Isabella moved from Class 1A into Class 2A this year.