• 82°

No. 1 Patriots host No. 3 Escambia Academy

The top ranked Pike Liberal Arts Patriots begin their title defense on Friday night when they host No. 3 Escambia Academy in the 2021 season opener.

After winning their first championship since 2010, the Patriots got back to work preparing for what they hope is another successful season. On Friday night they begin to see if their hard work paid off.

“We are ready to go,” head coach Mario White said. “Everybody is excited. Coach Fountain is coming back to Troy. Last year, in my first year coaching, coach Fountain really helped me behind the scenes. I have great admiration for that man.  He is bringing a lot of talent here and we are going to have some really good football being played.”

There promises to me a lot of excitement on the field on Friday night. There could be no fewer than 20 future college players between the two teams.

“You are going to see athleticism all over the field,” White said. “You’re going to see team speed. Both teams are going to be really physical. I expect a really exciting brand of football. I’m so excited to be able to play in this opening game.”

The Patriots will open the season with a new offensive and defensive coordinator in Dee Brundidge and Cornelius Griffin, both of whom were on the staff last year.

“Cornelius, this is his first game at defensive coordinator,” White said. “Who has a guy that played 12 years in the NFL as a captain as their defensive coordinator? Dee is calling his first game as an offensive coordinator. He is a fantastic guy with great knowledge of the game.”

Like the Patriots, Escambia advanced to the championship game last season. They fell to Chambers Academy in the 2A title game, 36-34. They finished the season 10-2 overall. Their only loss of the regular season came in week two against 3A Glenwood in Atmore.

“This is about the most balanced offense you’re going to see,” White said. “They have a big back that is fast and physical. They have some really good skill guys out wide.

“It’s going to be a daunting pass with athletes everywhere on both sides of the ball. It’s going to be something to behold in the first week of football.”

This will be the first meeting between the two schools since 2015 when the Cougars defeated the Patriots 36-7.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.