TRM, Pike County: battle of juggernauts
By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
They face an undefeated team ranked second in the state that is averaging 52.8 points a game and has allowed just 13 points for the season.
The Tigers host the runaway freight train known as the Pike County Bulldogs Friday at 7 p.m. in a Class 3A Region 1 showdown. A T.R. Miller victory would enable the Tigers (6-1 overall and 4-1 in region play) to pull even with the Bulldogs (7-0 overall and 5-0 in region play) in the region standings as well as wrap up a playoff berth. If T.R. Miller beats Pike County and if Straughn beats W.S. Neal, there would be a three-way tie for the top spot headed into next week's final week of region play.
Ever since Pike County and T.R. Miller became region roommates four years ago, the two perennial state juggernauts have battled each other for region and state supremacy. The Bulldogs won a 19-13 decision back in 2002 that propelled them to the region championship, but T.R. Miller later came back and won the state crown. Pike County also prevailed 27-21 in the 2003 regular season on its way to the region title and then nipped the Tigers 35-34 in the state semifinals. Last year T.R. Miller posted a 52-27 victory on its way to an undefeated regular season.
Just how good is this Pike County team? While the Bulldogs have put up some mind-boggling numbers, they have done it against opponents with a combined 13-36 record. W.S. Neal (4-3) is the only team Pike County has beaten that has a winning record.
W.S. Neal is also the last team to have scored on the Bulldogs back in week two. Since then Pike County has blanked Headland, Slocomb, Bullock County, Abbeville and Dale County in succession.
Even though he is still just a junior, the Tigers will have their fourth encounter with Pike County running back James Jackson. The 5-8, 157-pound Jackson is probably the sparkplug of the Pike County offense, as he has run for 566 yards on 58 carries with eight touchdowns. Jackson is averaging 9.8 yards per carry.
Jackson is not the only formidable running back for Pike County. The Bulldogs have a good supporting cast with fullback Jarmon Barrow (5-10, 188 lb. sr.) and tailback Darrell Reynolds (5-7, 165 lb. soph.).
Pike County quarterback Alonzo Foster (5-9, 172 lb. sr.) has completed 61 percent of his passes (27-for-44 for 368 yards and seven touchdowns). Fred Caffie (5-11, 1643 lb. sr.) has been Foster's favorite target, as he has caught 10 balls for 213 yards and three scores.
The T.R. Miller skipper, whose team is ranked sixth in the state, said the best way to slow down the Bulldogs' offense is to keep it off the field.