SEASON ENDS IN PLAYOFFS: Mercer pleased with 1st year as PHS head coach

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Pleasant Home looked sharp under first-year head coach Rick Mercer, as the Eagles soared into the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

“Overall, it was a successful season,” Mercer said. “We were disappointed that we weren’t able to get that winning record, but the loss to Zion Chapel put us out of that. Overall, we were a playoff team and that’s we can hang out hat on. There are a lot of teams around the state that would have liked to be able to say they were a playoff team.”

Mercer said that the Eagles played strong in the games that mattered the most.

“I’m really proud of the way that we played in the games we needed to win,” Mercer said. “The Florala and Kinston games were key victories that allowed us to get that fourth playoff spot.”

Once in the playoffs, the Eagles fell in round one to the Wadley Bulldogs.

“Wadley is a great team,” Mercer said. “I think they will go deep into the playoffs.”

Mercer also explained a little of how the season progressed.

“It seems like it’s been years ago, but we started out strong with a shutout over Fruitdale,” Mercer said. “The next week we went up against McKenzie, and that was a game that we felt we could have a chance, but at the end of the day we lost in double overtime. That could have gotten us over the hump, but we just weren’t able to beat them. After that, we had to play the Brantleys and the Georgianas of the world and that’s never pretty. We were able to get back on track and win the right games to get us in to the playoffs after that. I’m proud of the kids for being able to get that done.”

Over the course of the season, Mercer said he was impressed with growth of the offense.

“Overall, I think our biggest improvement was our ability to evolve our offense,” Mercer said. “It seemed like every week we added a few plays or wrinkles. Eventually, our offense evolved into a dangerous animal.”

Mercer said that part of the evolution was finding his play makers.

“What really helped was when we figured out who we needed to get the ball to,” Mercer said. “That was Nic Woods and Rico Bovino. They were a huge part in getting us into the playoffs. With them, we were able to branch out our offense a little more. Nic is dangerous with the ball in his hands, and Rico can find running room even if the blocks aren’t there. Rico is a very shifty back that can create a lot of his own opportunities with his speed.”

Mercer said he hopes to keep the Eagles in the playoffs next season.

“It’s been a good year and now we are getting ready for next season,” Mercer said. “We have some guys that we have to replace. We would like to keep running what we ran this year, but we will adapt to the players that we have. Whatever we do, we are hoping to be back in the playoffs again, but Florala and Kinston are going to be tough challengers for that fourth spot.”