Pike County travels to Ashford as region play continues

Published 10:26 am Wednesday, September 6, 2023

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The Pike County Bulldogs (0-1, 0-1) are on the road this week for a Class 3A, Region 2 game against the Ashford Yellow Jackets (1-1, 0-1) on Friday, Sept. 8.

The Dawgs are coming off a hard-fought, but disappointing, loss in week one against Straughn.

“I thought we played a terrible first half with a lot of mental mistakes and lack of focus,” PCHS Coach Mark Hurt said. “In the second half, we kind of got it together and started playing Pike County Football. We got some stops (on defense) and started scoring.”

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Special teams ended up being costly for Pike County. The Bulldogs failed on two PATs in the second half, losing by just one point.

“Our kicks were off, we had a high snap and we missed one,” Hurt said. “That was the deciding factor at the end of the game. We have some guys banged up; it was a pretty physical game. Hats off to Straughn, they’re a senior oriented group.

“They’re very disciplined and played well against us, especially in the first half, but I think we caught up with them in the second half. They just made more plays than we did and came away with the victory.”

Against Straughn, the Bulldogs got some big plays out of some familiar names like running back Nemo Williams, receiver/defensive back Braylin Jackson and quarterback Omari Barrow, but the Dawgs are also looking for production out of some new faces. Backup quarterback Cornelius Griffin Jr. – the son of legendary Pike County alum and current defensive coordinator Cornelius Griffin Sr. – is playing some at receiver, as well.

“CJ is one of our athletes and you have to kind of get him out there and get him involved in the game,” Hurt said. “We want to get our best athletes on the field.”

The Bulldogs can’t dwell on the loss for too long as region play continues this Friday against an improved Ashford squad. The Yellow Jackets picked up a dominant 42-6 season opening win over Graceville (Fla.) on Aug. 25, which was Ashford’s first win in an opener since 2018. Last week, the Yellow Jackets stumbled against Providence Christian, losing 21-0. Hurt says it’s easy to see a new energy around the Ashford program, however.

“They have a new coach there and they have a lot more players on the roster,” Hurt said of Ashford. “They’ve changed their system and are going with a more ‘Spread’ offense and are throwing it around a lot. They have a different type of energy around themselves.”

Hurt was clear that Pike County couldn’t have the same mistakes this week as the Dawgs had against Straughn.

“We have to start faster and cut down on the penalties. We also had a couple of turnovers and we have to correct those things,” Hurt said. “If we can go in and not make mistakes and play really focused I think we can do well. If we go in and have a lot of turnovers and penalties like last week it will be hard to win.

“We have to be focused and disciplined. I want to see us start fast and not miss a lot of tackles and communicate a lot more on the field. Just focus on the task at the hand, that’s the main thing.”

Pike County holds an all-time lead in the series 15-13 and have won each of the last team games. In fact, the Bulldogs have outscored Ashford 48-6 in the last two games combined including a 34-0 win last season. The last time Ashford defeated PCHS was in 1998, a 14-13 Yellow Jacket win.

PCHS and AHS will play at 7 p.m. on Friday at W.H. Brown Field in Ashford.