Dawgs ready for Pickens

Published 10:59 am Wednesday, November 16, 2011

SWEET WATER — Stacy Luker has never seen Pickens County play football. He has heard about the athletic talent that has long permeated the program. But, until this week, he has never seen with his own eyes how dangerous the team, much less had to put together a game plan against it.

“Very athletic. A lot of playmakers on the field,” he said of Sweet Water’s third round playoff opponent. “I’ve never seen them on field before this year. I’ve always known they have great athletes but I’ve never gotten to see them.”

Luker will see Pickens County up close Friday night as the Bulldogs, fresh off a 49-0 trouncing at Winterboro last week, will look to ground a dynamic PCHS attack.

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“They spread the field and they keep the ball in their playmakers’ hands. They get it to them in space. They do a great job of isolating their athletes,” Luker said. “They’re pretty balanced. They seem to be the kind of team that, if they need to throw it, they put it in the air. They put it in the air 50-something times against Gordo.”

While Sweet Water has to be ready to limit Pickens County’s passing game, the Bulldogs will also have to be equipped to contend with a versatile and effective rushing offense.

“They’ll get under center and run the football some. They are just as dangerous in that as they are in the spread,” Luker said.

On the other side of the ball, Pickens is just as athletic and imposing. PCHS head coach and former Demopolis defensive backs coach Patrick Plott led his team to a 14-12 road victory over Brantley last week to punch the third round ticket for the team from Reform.

“Big and physical. They pretty much dominated Brantley in the box,” Luker said. “They are a scary football team. Well-coached and physical.”

Sweet Water heads into its collision with Pickens County at what may be the best time as the Bulldogs are clicking after what could be considered their most complete performance of the season.

“We played good football last week on both sides. We were very physical on both sides,” Luker said. “Although we gave up some yards, I thought our defense came up big and we played as well defensively as we have all year.”

The Bulldog defense has improved considerably over the course of the season, a campaign that has seen the unheralded group contend with powerhouse squads such as Thomasville, Gordo, Linden, Handley and Leroy before beginning its playoff run.

“We’re becoming a pretty good defensive team. We’re real pleased with our progress,” Luker said.

But as much as the Bulldog defense will be called upon to subdue the Pickens attack, it may be the Sweet Water offense that really determines whether or not SWHS will be practicing Thanksgiving week.

“I think this game is about tempo. We’ve got to keep the football and control the tempo of the game,” Luker, whose team will host Pickens at 7 p.m. Friday night, said. “We’ve got to knock out first downs, eat up some clock and try to play defense with our offense a little bit if we can. I compare it to the old four corners offense in basketball. We’ve got to play keep-away and shorten the game a little bit.”