Pike County aims to secure playoff spot against Houston Academy

Published 10:05 am Monday, October 30, 2023

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The Pike County Bulldogs (4-4, 3-2) close out the 2023 regular season this Friday, Nov. 3, with a potential playoff spot on the line against Class 3A, Region 2 No. 2 seed Houston Academy Raiders (8-1, 6-1) on the road.

The Bulldogs are coming off a dominant 49-6 win over Daleville last Friday that saw PCHS churn out more than 300 yards rushing, a season-high.

“I thought the guys played well and played with some unity, which is what I wanted to see,” PCHS Coach Mark Hurt said. “They played focused and played like a team. We have to continue that.”

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Junior Nemo Williams has been the Bulldogs’ workhorse at running back this season and had a career night against Daleville, piling up 188 yards and three touchdowns on just 10 carries. Athlete Braylin Jackson also churned out 124 yards and two scores on just 11 carries. The Pike County ground game averaged 13 yards per carry as a team.

As Pike County looks to finalize a playoff spot, that path won’t be as it leads through Houston Academy. The Raiders have been dominant this season, scoring 40 points or more in all but two games. The Raiders are averaging 43 points per game and giving up just 14 points per game.

“They have good receivers and a good quarterback and are very well disciplined and very well coached,” Hurt said of Houston Academy. “They have bought into what they do, both offensively and defensively. They’re very well disciplined and very well coached. I expect them to come out and play the same way they’ve been playing all year.”

Roaming the sidelines for the Raiders is a familiar face to the Troy area, Troy Trojan legend Eddie Brundidge. Brundidge is in his third season at the helm at Houston Academy, boasting a 24-7 record including last season’s 10-1 season. Brundidge – a Dozier native – held Troy’s single game rushing record at Troy until Kimani Vidal broke that record this season.

Houston Academy quarterback Kadyn Mitchell is a threat with both his arm and his legs. He’s thrown for more than 1,500 yards and 23 touchdowns with just one interception this season. His favorite target is senior Rod Jackson, who has more than 700 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns. Jackson has also scored on defense, special teams and rushing. Both he and Mitchell have multiple interceptions on defense, as well.

Pike County currently holds a 2-1 record against Houston Academy but lost 21-20 to the Raiders. Even with a loss, Pike County could still make it into the playoffs but it would be a long shot. Pike County currently sits in fourth place in the region ahead of Opp, but Opp holds a head-to-head win over the Bulldogs. If Pike County wins against Houston Academy, the Bulldogs are in, but if Pike County loses and Opp defeats 4-5 Ashford this Friday then Opp will take the final playoff spot.

If both Pike County and Opp lose then the Bulldogs would also take that playoff spot. Hurt and his Bulldogs are only thinking about a win, though. Whoever takes the No. 4 seed will move on to play St. James in the first round of the playoffs.

“I want my guys to do what they did last week; come out and play with some passion and energy,” Hurt emphasized. “Execute the game plan and play with some unity. I think we played with a spark and got back to our old selves (against Daleville) a little bit. If something negative happens, move on to the next play.”

Houston Academy hosts Pike County at 7 p.m. on Friday night at Westgate Park in Dothan.