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File / The Outlook Dadeville's Cooper Childers (4) is going to be a strong weapon for the Tigers against Pike Road.

There were a lot of positives to take from Dadeville’s 8-2 loss last week against Montgomery Academy. The Tigers felt like they played one of their best defensive games of the season, but tonight, they’re going to need to have an even better showing if they hope to come away with a victory.

Dadeville travels to Pike Road, which is currently ranked No. 6 in Class 3A in the latest Alabama Sports Writers Association poll, for a 3A Region 3 showdown, and the Patriots are a huge threat to score —  a lot.

“They are loaded,” Dadeville coach Richard White said. “They throw it well and they run it well too. They’re about 50-50 with what they do (offensively), and they have big, huge linemen too.” 

Pike Road (7-0, 4-0) has scored at least 35 points in every game and is averaging 45.9 per contest. The Patriots boast a multitude of receivers and Pike Road quarterback James Brack, who was a running back last season, is a threat to run the ball as well as pass it.

“He throws the ball well and he just moves well,” White said.

But White is hoping the Tigers (1-6, 0-4) can pull from what they did last week against Montgomery Academy and at least be able to slow Pike Road.

“We’ve got to tackle well and we’re going to have to cover these receivers,” White said. “If not, they’ll blow the back end off our defense.”

The toughest part about defending Pike Road is how multiple it is offensively, even out of the same formation. White said just because the Patriots line up with one look doesn’t mean they’re going to do something consistent offensively.

“They run a lot of crossing routes and deep routes and combo routes and they’ll try to high low your corners,” White said. “We’re going to have to be attune to what’s going on and the routes they’re running. We’re going to play zone for the most part and we may man up some slows. We’ll change our coverages and hopefully we can do something to confuse their quarterback, and our six in the box are going to have to stop the running game.” 

As for Pike Road’s defense, it typically runs a 4-2 and throws in some 4-3 looks but Dadeville’s main focus will be getting back to its strengths offensively. After scoring 41 points against Horseshoe Bend in the season opener, the Tigers have not scored more than 21 points in game.

They continue to have big weapons with guys like Jamarion Wilkerson and Cooper Childers at receiver and Christian Nelson and Javuntae Holley at running back. Lane Smith has also gotten more and more comfortable at quarterback, but he continues to battle some nagging injuries.

With the postseason all but out of the question, the Tigers’ biggest focus in the final three games of the year is to improve and to end the season on as much of a high note as possible.

“We need to keep getting better,” White said. “Friday night, I thought we had some success defensively in what we’re doing. We hustled; we got after the ball; we tackled at the line of scrimmage. Yeah, we got beat on a couple coverages but we recovered and knocked the ball away. You wanna put back-to-back-to-back games together like that as far as execution.” 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.