South Pike returns home to host Bay in playoff opener

Hosting a first round playoff game is something that the South Pike Eagles are used to and they will continue that tradition tonight for the fourth-consecutive year as they will welcome in the Bay Tigers. 

The heartbreaking loss to North Pike last Friday is in the rear view mirror for the South Pike Eagles. They are now shifting their focus to the postseason they will be entertaining the Bay Tigers, tonight.

“They have a very good quarterback (Josh Peters), he can throw the football and he can run, a dual threat guy,” South Pike head coach Brinson Wall said. “It looks like most of the offense goes through him. And they have a big tight end, receiver that they like to work the passing game through him.”

When comparing defenses, Wall said that the Tigers are impressive but he believes his defense has the edge when it comes to quickness. The Eagle defense is led by senior linebackers Reggie Bonds, Buddy Felder and Tyger Bateaste and defensive back Izavious Crossley.

“On the defensive side they are big and physical, but we may have the advantage with speed,” Wall said. “They are a solid football team.”

When watching film on the Tigers earlier this week, Wall referred to their game back on Sept. 25 when Bay traveled to Pike County to face McComb. He adds that may not be an accurate representation of how good Bay can be when compared to more recent games.

“We watched the McComb game and McComb got off to a great start against them and really kind of cruised to an easy victory,” Wall said. “But when you go back and watch that film and compare the film to the last couple of weeks, they look to be a much improved football team. It looks like they got some players back. We expect a good football game here Friday night.”

Tonight’s game marks the fourth-consecutive playoff opener that the Eagles will host. It is also the first time the Eagles will play under the lights of Colee Field since Oct. 2 when they edged their rivals in the McComb Tigers. But for the Eagles, the start of the postseason also marks the chance to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

“That is what we hope for, it is a new season, whatever you’ve done up to this point doesn’t matter,” Wall said. “You have made it into the dance and nobody is going to give you anything for what you did up to this point. We are going to wipe the slate clean, start over and we are going to figure out how we are going to be the best football team every Friday night. It is not who is the best team in 4A it is who is the best team each Friday night and it starts over every Friday night. Our kids are excited to be back here in Magnolia and to play in front of our home crowd. If we can get out of our own way early and not get big eyed, we can play a pretty good football game Friday night.” 

Adding to that, the experience of not only making the playoffs but also knowing what it takes to compete in the postseason could be key for South Pike.

“I think that our key players understand that,” Wall said. “I think that we have some players in our starting lineup that haven’t experienced a whole lot of this atmosphere and a whole lot of the playoffs. This is kind of their learning as they go. I think that last week’s game helped us because it was a different atmosphere, it was kind of an elimination-type game where if you lose you don’t win the district championship and if you win, you win it. I think that we learned a lot about ourselves.”

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