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Eagles and Wildcats face off in season closer

The Pleasant Home Eagles (3-5, 1-5 in Class 1A, Region 2) will close out their season Friday night as they travel to face the Florala Wildcats (1-7, 1-5).

Last week, the Eagles played against Providence Christian and head coach Robert Bradford said the effort from the team was noticeable.

“I think we played better,” Bradford said. “We got a little bit better that week. Providence Christian is a really good football team. We had to deal with the rain and some other things and it ended up that they played a lot harder than we did in the end.”

In order for Pleasant Home to win this week, Bradford said the team needs to continue to work on the “fundamentals.”

“I think we need to stay with what we’re doing and continue to work on the fundamentals and keep improving,” he said. “This is our last football game of the year, so it’s kind of the last hoorah for us. Our kids are excited and they’re looking forward to coming in and playing.”

For Florala, head coach Stan Gooden said hit team has to do better on defense.

“We’ve got to do a lot better on defense this week,” Gooden said. “Pleasant Home has kind of had an up and down season and their record does not indicate what kind of football team they have. They’re a lot better football team than their record.”

Gooden added that the team will finish the season with the same caliber of play as a young team.

“They’re going to dress a few more players than we are,” Gooden said. “We’re down to about 22 players and a lot of them are seventh, eighth and ninth graders. We are basically going to finish out our season with a junior high team.

“It’s going to be tough because they have some good skill players and we’re going to have our hands full,” he said.

Bradford added that this year the team has strived to accomplish goals to make them a competitive force in the region.

“That’s one thing that’s good about this year is that we had a really young team,” Bradford said. “We only have four seniors on the team and our kids have understood it all year that we’ve been trying to get as many wins as we could.

“The ultimate goal for this year was to continue to get bigger, faster and stronger and play harder every week as well as putting ourselves in a position to be able to win next year,” he said.

The main thing that Florala has been working on is their defense.

“We’ve been working a lot harder as far as defense goes and getting lined up correctly,” Gooden said. “That is what has hurt us on defense. We’ve also had to move some people around on defense because of injuries.

“It’s going to be senior night and we’re going to try to go out there and give the fans something to be proud of,” he said.

At practice for the Wildcats, Gooden said the players’ attitudes have been positive leading up to the game.

“We’ve had a pretty good week at practice to (Wednesday),” he said. “Our guys’ attitudes are still good even though we haven’t had a real good year. Everybody is remaining positive and have worked hard this week.”

On accomplishing those goals, Bradford said the players have overcome issues at the beginning of the season to get where they are now.

“I think we started out the year with some definite issues — things we had to overcome,” Bradford said. “One of them was the passing game. We had to get better at passing for us to put ourselves in a chance where we can actually compete with some of the better teams in our region.

“We had to get better at blocking and tackling and I think we have gotten better in those areas,” he said. “The offseason is going to play a big deal with us. We’re still a little undersized compared to everybody else. We’re just going to have to get our kids ready to go for next year.”

Kickoff in Florala is at 7 p.m.