• 66°

Patriots play region foe McIntosh Thursday

LINDEN — The Patriots rebounded from their first regular season loss since 2007 last week by downing previously undefeated Class 4A foe Greene County. Now the Pats must turn their attention quickly to region opponent McIntosh, who will visit Linden Athletic Field Thursday night.

“They are dangerous. They’re downhill. They do a good job of rolling two or three backs in there,” Linden head coach Andro Williams said of the McIntosh. “They lull you to sleep on that ground game Then, when they lull you to sleep, they come up and get you with the pass.”

Williams’ team had very little time to prepare for McIntosh given the Thursday date. Williams said the scheduling has altered the way Linden has prepared for the game.

“We knew we had a short week coming in,” Williams said. “It really sort of puts Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday together in two days.”

But when Thursday comes, the Pats figure to rely upon the same ground attack that has led them to a 4-1 record and a No. 2 seat in the region standings. That ground game, which allowed Kendarius Fritts to rush for more than 2,300 yards on his way to Class 1A Back of the Year honors a season ago, has seen major contributions from Marquis Shelton thus far this season.

“He’s handled it well,” Williams said of the increased workload on newcomer Shelton. “If we don’t have him in that game Friday night (against Greene County), we end up in a dog fight. He’s got a good build and he just gives us another gear. He’s in the Top 3 of the fastest people on our team.”

Shelton carried the ball 11 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns last week against Greene County. That production has allowed the Patriots to remove some offensive emphasis from Fritts and fellow back Julian Little as they contribute more and more to the defensive unit.

“It helps up because Kendarius Fritts and Julian Little both play on defense,” Williams said.

The fourth-year head coach indicated his team has put the Sweet Water loss squarely in its rearview as it prepares for a stretch run that includes McIntosh, Marengo and Brantley.

“I thought we handled it well during the week coming off that loss,” Williams said. “We just had to go play football.”