Eagles to face ‘tough’ St. Luke’s

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pleasant Home’s Justin Helms (14) drives the ball up field during an earlier game this season. | File photo

Pleasant Home will likely face its toughest task tomorrow night as the Eagles faced St. Luke Episcopal School at Baker High School for the first round of the Class 1A state playoffs.

The Eagles and Wildcats were originally scheduled to play tonight at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, but the game was pushed back one day on orders from the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

St. Luke’s is playing its third year in the AHSAA, and is competing in its first ever post season game this week.

PHS made it all the way to the second round last season, the farthest in school history.

Leading up to the game, the Wildcats have won seven straight games. The Eagles have lost four straight.

“It’s going to be a very tough challenge for us,” PHS head football coach Cody McCain said. “Offensively, they say St. Luke’s, probably outside of Brantley and Flomaton, is the third best team we’ve seen this year.”

Leading St. Luke’s on the offensive side of the ball is running back George Payne, who has rushed more than 2,000 yards this season, while scoring 32 touchdowns.

“Seeing him on film, he looks like he’s on another level than most teams,” McCain said. “Finding a way to stop him would be the No. 1 goal.”

Wildcats head football coach Jay Beverly said his players are “excited” about competing in the post season.

“We are fortunate to compete in the playoffs with our first senior class,” Beverly said. “We have a pretty good football team, but we’re still young.

“We have some key role players,” he said. “I know it will be a tough, hard-fought game between us and Pleasant Home.”

St. Luke’s likes to run more a multiple offense, using the spread and I formations, a little bit of it all, Beverly said.

Defensively, the Wildcats are a 4-3 team and will play man coverage, zone and in cover three a lot.

McCain said he’s noticed that St. Luke’s likes to run most of its plays out of the pistol and “sometimes out of the spread look.”

“They do mix it up,” he said. “We think we’ve done a pretty good job on our film study, trying to find out some tendencies and others like that.”

Beverly said he can’t deny that PHS has size.

“They are big,” the Wildcats’ coach said. “That’s one thing we did notice. We sat down as a coaching staff (Sunday) and saw the size they have on front line. They are huge. We’ll have to devise a way to keep our guys fresh going up against these big guys.”

Beverly said other than Payne, he has senior quarterback Andrew Favors, receivers Aaron Bryant and Dalton Becker, who have done a great job for the Wildcats this season so far. Additionally, there is Justin Ware, who is on offense as well, the coach said.

Pleasant Home’s last two losses were to McKenzie and J.U. Blacksher to close out the regular season. The Eagles are currently playing two starters on the offensive line.

McCain said the loss to J.U. Blacksher didn’t sit well with his players.

“I think we had a lot of disappointed kids Friday night, and rightly so,” McCain said. “The seniors, they were playing their last game here for sure. They wanted to go out with a win. They just made some mistakes.

“If we’ll come out and have a good week of practice and study film the way we’re supposed to study it, I think we’ll put ourselves in a position to win,” he said. “I think we’ll have to be really secure with the ball, keep long drives and keep their offense off the field and put points on the board. If we do that, then we’ll have a shot on the field.”

Kick off at Baker High School is at 7 p.m. tomorrow.