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Patriots pursue perfection

LINDEN — A week removed from one of the biggest victories in school history, the Patriots (6-0, 5-0) will take the field against Sunshine High (1-5, 1-4) tonight in a regional rivalry game that will carry with it a little extra pizzazz.

The Tigers will be hosting the Toyota Line of Scrimmage crew in addition to the visiting Patriots. While Linden head coach Andro Williams did tell his team that the extracurricular activity surrounding the game provides ample opportunity for Linden to gain recognition as well, he emphasized to his team its need to focus on improving.

“We’ve got to be able to come back from a big ball game. We haven’t really talked about (last week’s opponent) Maplesville since we watched the film,” Williams said. The Patriots shut out the Red Devils, who had averaged 44.75 points per game prior to last week. However, despite allowing an average of only 14.17 points per contest, Williams feels his squad has room to improve.

“We’ve got to get better on the defensive side of the ball.” Williams said.

His team has complemented its defensive stiffness by scoring 286 points over six games, an average of 47.67 points per outing. That production has been fueled largely by the rushing ability of seniors Maurice Tate and Shantrell Braxton, who have combined to rush for 1,875 yards and 28 touchdowns thus far.

The productivity of Tate and Braxton has come as a surprise to some critics who questioned Linden’s offensive line early in the season.

“We’ve got some guys that are getting outmanned at times, but I expect that,” Williams said of his offensive front. “What we’re doing is trying to block angles. We want to continue to pester people. We’re not where we want to be right now, but we’re in the area we want to be.”

Williams also said he has been pleased with the progress displayed by senior quarterback Ajalon Bruno.

“He has come into his own,” Williams said. “He can do some things right now we wouldn’t have thought about last year. He’s grown up even since the preseason. He’s telling people where they need to be.”

Even though he is excited about the progress of his team, Williams knows the work is far from done and says his team is prepared for the target it will sport now that it is a Top 5 team.

“They came to work this week just like it was last week (against Maplesville) or the week before that (against Billingsley),” Williams said of his team. “We know Sunshine will be ready to play when we get there. We’ll have to match their intensity. If we don’t, we’ll be in a ball game.”