ACA’s Hooks: We understand how good Patriots are

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 18, 2005

Linden’s supporters believe that Friday’s rematch between their team and American Christian will be very different from the 35-12 loss the Patriots suffered to ACA on Oct. 7. They might be surprised that there’s someone outside of Linden who would wholeheartedly agree with that belief: ACA head coach Stephen Hooks.

“Linden has improved dramatically since we played,” he says, “and it was a much, much closer game than the score indicated. We were fortunate to score a couple times in the second quarter before the half.”

Linden went on to outscore the Patriots 8-6 in the second half, becoming the first–and still the only–team to hold ACA under 40 points in a game.

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“That’s indicative of the type of team they have,” Hooks said when informed of the accomplishment. “It will be a great game. It always is. They’ve beaten us three times in the series and it’s always a physical, hard-fought ball game.”

Another thing that makes the game special for Hooks, he says, is the respect he holds for Linden coach Luther Davis and the mutual respect both teams have for each other.

“It’s a good thing our kids are familiar with Linden,” Hooks says. “If it weren’t Linden, if it was some other team we’d played, one we’d beaten handily, they might not be focused. But they know the kind of team Linden has and they know that if they don’t bring their best game, they’ll be done and basketball practice starts on Monday.”

According to Hooks ACA’s home-field advantage won’t make a difference in the outcome (“That’s never really mattered in this series all that much,” he says) but if the home team can maintain a ball-control advantage, it just might.

“We have to protect the football,” Hooks says. “They blocked a punt last time out, and that was the first punt we had blocked in 11 years. We have to have methodical drives so we can take the pressure off our defensive side.”

When all is said and done, Hooks says, whoever wins will still have plenty of respect from their opponent–and will deserve plenty more from their next one.

“They’re going to get after each other and obviously I want to win the game, but this region will be well-represented with either team advancing,” he says.