Playing ‘their’ game

Published 12:01 am Friday, November 11, 2011

Pleasant Home’s defensive line waits for a snap during the Kinston game this season. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

In order for Pleasant Home to have a chance of beating top-ranked Linden tonight in the second round of the Class 1A state playoffs at Eagles Field, the Eagles will have to play “their” game, head football coach Ronnie Douglas said.

“We have to play the game,” Douglas said. “The hype’s going to be there, but we have to play the game. They’re (the fans) going to come and see us play the game, so that’s what we have to show up to do.”

Pleasant Home made history last week when it beat St. Jude 15-14 in overtime at Montgomery Catholic School. The Eagles have never made it past the first round of the playoffs in four previous appearances, until last week.

The Eagles will face a Patriot football team that utilizes a Wing-T offense mixed with a few passing plays.

Linden junior quarterback Anthony Robinson can make any throw from anywhere, and his favorite targets are wide receiver Jorian Ravizee and tight end Terris Lewis.

Running backs Marquis Shelton, Jamal Lewis and Julian Little handle the ground game for the Patriots.

Linden has two 300-pounders on the offensive line in Anthony Bates and Tyler Davis.

Linden head football coach Andro Williams said establishing the line play will be key in tonight’s game.

“That’s the biggest football team I’ve ever seen in my life,” Williams said. “We know we’re going to have our hands full with their football team. I think you can just tell that coach Douglas is real confident about what he’s done this year and them having one of their better seasons they’ve had.

“You can tell he’s done a really good job with the kids, and they’ve gotten kids believing in the system and what they’re trying to do,” he said.

Defensively, the Patriots have Terris Lewis at linebacker, and is the leading tackler on the team. He was the only player from a Class 1A school to be picked to play on the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game.

Ryan Preston and Kevan Rembert, a senior duo, provides the necessary punch for the Patriots on the line.

The secondary is controlled by Robinson, who Douglas said is very good in that position, other than being quarterback.

“He’s not very big, but he’s very fast and very athletic,” Douglas said. “He’s a heck of a free safety, too. If we play assignment football, and get some guys in their right spots, then hopefully we can defend him.”

Pleasant Home is known for their size on the offensive and defensive lines.

Last week, the Eagles saw a fast team in St. Jude, which is good for Pleasant Home, Douglas said.

“I’m not taking anything away from Linden,” Douglas said. “They’ve got great athletes. St. Jude was a very good football team, and a very fast football team. For us to play Linden right after that, it’s sort of a similar situation as far as what they have.”

Williams said PHS senior quarterback Gabe Gunter looks like a “winner” out on the field.

“They’ve got several athletes on their football team, I can tell you that,” Williams said. “Starting with that quarterback. He (Gunter) looks like he’s got a ‘W’ on his chest.

“They know how to win, and they know how to compete,” he said.

Douglas said the keys for success this week remain the same as always, but the importance of not making mistakes is high on the list.

In the last week of the regular season, Linden beat Brantley — who beat PHS 49-7 — 15-6.

Douglas said Linden’s first time to get a first down came in the third quarter.

“That’s the whole deal for us to have a chance (at winning),” Douglas said. “We have to play a perfect game, and hopefully get some breaks.

“In the playoffs, everybody gets breaks,” he said. “Whether you are from one team, and where we are. If you get those breaks, you move on.”

Moving on to the third round of the playoffs would only add to Pleasant Home’s historical run in the playoffs.

Kick off in Pleasant Home is at 7 tonight.