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Linden focuses on the game ahead

After completing a perfect regular season on the road at 3A Aliceville last Friday night, the Patriots turned their attention to the next step in their season.

“Five-game commitment,” senior Maurice Tate said of the team’s approach to the AHSAA 1A playoffs that start Friday night when the team hosts Winterboro. “It’s business, a business-like attitude.”

While the team has had unquestionable success en route to its 10-0 record, Tate and company continue to express their desire for improvement.

“We’ve got to cut down on the penalties and get better as we go,” Tate said. “We’ve still got room for improvement.”

“We’re looking to correct our mistakes that we made last week and cut down on our penalties,” senior Ajalon Bruno said of the team’s focus at practice this week.

According to head coach Andro Williams, the team’s practice sessions have focused considerably on the defensive side of the ball.

“We can be better. We’ve improved defensively and I want to continue to improve defensively,” Williams, who first established himself as the defensive coordinator for nearby Sweet Water, said. “I’m not satisfied (with the offense), but I like where we’re at offensively.”

Williams also said his team will need to improve along its kick coverage unit if it is to extend its season.

“Mistake-free football,” Tate said. “That’s what I am looking for. If we play that, can’t anybody mess with us. I promise you.”

The Patriots will also need continued strong play from their offensive line in order to find success in the post season. And Bruno, who quarterbacks the team, is confident that strong play will be provided.

“It’s grown up a lot,” he said of the offensive line. “They came up big for us last week. They’re starting to get those key blocks and make big plays for us.”

The Patriots’ first test of the playoffs comes in the form of a Winterboro team that suffered its way through and 0-10 season in 2007. The squad rebounded to go 6-4 this season.

“They’re going to bring in some talented kids,” Williams said. “Young kids, but talented. They’re going to be hungry to move on. What they do, they do pretty well. They are playing their best football right now. We’re catching them while they’re hot.”

Should Linden advance beyond the first round, it would host either Wadley or Billingsley in the second round.

However, that is not a popular topic of discussion in Linden this week as Williams says his team is maintaining what has become its trademark focus in 2008.

“I don’t think they will be (looking ahead) at this point,” Williams said.

“We play every game like it’s our last,” Bruno said.