Pike Lib, Zion Chapel face off in season opener

Published 1:33 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2023

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For the first time, the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots will battle the Zion Chapel Rebels on the gridiron this Friday, Aug. 25, in Jack as the 2023 football season opens up.

Pike Lib is beginning its second season in the AHSAA after going 3-6 last season, while the Rebels went 3-7 in 2022.

“Fall camp has had its ups and downs,” Zion Chapel Coach Cody Keene said. “I think everyone in the southeastern part of the state has had to battle with the heat and had to do some different things to be creative to be able to make sure we take care of our guys and still get some work in.

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“Taking care of the guys is the most important part of it, though. I think we accomplished the things we set out to accomplish during camp. I feel like we’ll have some first game things to deal with that Pike won’t because they have a (preseason) game under their belt. They have the advantage there.”

Pike Lib played Highland Home in a preseason jamboree last Friday that saw the varsity teams face off in the first half.

“We went out there and competed,” PLAS Coach William Moguel said of the jamboree. “Highland (Home) is a very good football team and it was great to be able to play that game. No. 1, we didn’t get anyone hurt but we were able to also see what mistakes we need to get ironed out before the regular season starts. It was good for our kids to go out and compete against a high quality opponent like that.”

With this being the first time that either team has ever played in football, Keene said Pike Lib is still a bit of a mystery to the Rebels.

“They had probably 21 or 22 kids that dressed last Friday, which is about what we’ll have dressed out,” Keene said. “I expect to see football players. Those kids have faced so much adversity over the last couple of years with coaching changes and players transferring out, which none of that is the fault of the kids. I expect to see guys that want to play football and give great effort and a team that will be well coached.”

Moguel saisd he knows what to expect from Zion Chapel.

“They’re a well coached football team,” Moguel emphasized. “Coach Keene and his staff have done a great job since they got there. They have them believing they can and competing with everyone they play. I think it will be a pretty good battle over there Friday night.”

Keen and his coaching staff is looking forward to his Rebels continuing to build on the physicality they put forth last season.

“I just want to see us be physical, that’s the main thing,” he said. “Our kids are tired of going against each other. So, it’ll be good to be able to go up against someone else. You always make the biggest leap between game one and game two, so we’re also looking forward to seeing that.

“It’s just about settling in and playing as fast and physical as we can be and controlling the things we can control and take things one play at a time. There’s going to be bad plays but it’s about coming back and making up for it the next time.”

Moguel is also preaching about increasing the physicality as Zion Chapel looms ahead.

“I just want to see us compete and be more physical than we were against Highland,” he said. “If there was one thing I wasn’t pleased with in the (jamboree) it’s our physicality. We didn’t back down from them and we did some good things but the biggest thing I’ve been preaching about this week is our physicality.”

Pike Lib and Zion Chapel will kickoff at 7 p.m. at Green Memorial Stadium in Jack on Friday night.