Pike County gears up for Purple and White Game

Published 10:37 am Thursday, May 19, 2022

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The Pike County Bulldogs are heading down the final stretch of spring practices and will close out with a Purple and White scrimmage on Friday.

New Pike County head coach Mark Hurt is excited about an increase in player numbers this spring as he and his staff begin to implement their offense and defense.

“It’s going well so far,” Hurt said. “We have a good amount of kids out here and we have the younger kids practicing with the older guys, so everyone can kind of learn the system. So far so good, it’s about what I expected. We have a lot of new players and a new staff, so everyone is kind of learning together.”

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Pike County is coming off the first winless season in school history in 2021, so it only makes sense that the Bulldogs are turning to one of their own to restore the traditional powerhouse at Pike County to the glory it held for so many years.

Hurt was an all-state player for legendary coach Wayne Grant on Grant’s first teams at PCHS, in which the Bulldogs earned double digit wins for the first time ever. Pike County would go on to become a perennial power in Class 3A and 4A, winning five state championships between 1988 and 2006.

Hurt said his goal for the spring is to simply get his young group of players to understand the process his staff is implementing.

“My goal is pretty much to get the young guys, junior high guys, with my varsity group and practice them together and let them compete against each other in their age groups and learn together,” Hurt said. “We want to make sure everyone is learning the system and understanding the process of practice and how we wanted to practice, while learning the basic fundamentals.”

Hurts brought in longtime football coach Dedrick Sumpter as his offensive coordinator and Sumpter plans to implement a “spread” style of offensive attack. Sumpter, a Mobile native, has served as both offensive and defensive coordinator at Dothan, Central-Hayneville, Elmore County and Bullock County, but is best known for his nine-year stint as the head coach at Williamson where he took the Lions to five playoff appearances and a 2020 region championship. He served as head coach at Blount in 2021.

“(Sumpter) is a spread guy with some two-back sets, working with the slot a lot,” Hurt said. “We’re going to run a quick passing game and we’ll throw it down the field if we need to.”

Meanwhile on defense, Hurt himself is installing the Bulldogs’ 3-4 defense. Hurt has been an extremely successful defensive coordinator during his career, with stints at Lowndes County (Ga.), Daphne and Central-Phenix City. Hurt also played on the defensive side of the ball in college at Alabama State and has also served as head coach at Keith, Booker T. Washington and Blount.

“We’ll have multiple movements along our defense but right now we’re kind of vanilla this spring so we can do everything from a base perspective,” Hurt said. “The main thing is we need to get the basic stuff installed, so our kids understand what we’re doing, because it’s a big change from what they’ve done in the past, both offensively and defensively.”

While Hurt plans to oversee the install of the defense himself he said he would eventually promote a defensive coordinator from within the current coaching staff. As Pike County gets set for its Purple and White scrimmage this Friday, Hurt said a number of players have begun to stand out but he hopes the scrimmage can further develop depth, as well.

“We have a few guys that have stood out that I’ve been impressed with as practices have gone on,” Hurt said. “I think the way we’re practicing right now, for a 3A school, it’s kind of unheard of to have a intersquad scrimmage because you just don’t have that many players. The way we’re doing it is to try and build depth on both sides of the ball and find out who can play and just let them compete.”

Pike County’s Purple and White scrimmage will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at Bulldog Stadium.