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Football’s ‘second season’ commences

After an 11-year absence, Keith High (8-2) steps onto the field in a playoff game.

“It feels great,” said Keith coach Harry Crum. “Everybody’s in a good mood. It’s just a good crew that I have. Everything seems to have fallen into place.”

The last Bears team to reach the playoffs was the 1997 team coached by current Southside coach Lemuel Jones. It has been 13 years since Keith earned a playoff win.

It would only be natural for Keith players to feel pressure entering into this situation. But Crum sees a number of advantages at his team’s disposal.

For starters, the Patriots (9-1) run a spread offense and spread the ball around the field. Crum believes most of American Christian’s opponents utilize the spread offense as well, and that the Bears’ wing-T will provide some problems.

“We’re going to be something that nobody sees,” said Crum. “To take time to prepare for us, it’s probably going to be a task. You try to imitate us on offense with our team speed, and hopefully we’ll have an advantage in that aspect.”

Another advantage — particularly in playing a football power on the road — is an opportunity to showcase the potential of the Bears’ program by seeing the benefits of continued success.

“I want them to be on a stage in an atmosphere with people who love football,” said Crum. “Nobody’s really in awe of what we’re getting into.”

They will have their opportunity on the big stage at 7 p.m. Friday in Northport.

Maplesville (6-3) vs. Loachapoka (7-2)

Maplesville enters its playoff game with Loachapoka with a bad taste in its mouth, resulting from a two-game losing streak to end the season.

But the good news is that a win gives the Red Devils another shot at Holy Spirit — who beat Maplesville two weeks ago — or Talladega County Central.

Also, Maplesville coach Brent Hubbert felt a lot better about his team following the season-ending loss to Class 2A power American Christian.

“After last week we feel like we got a lot better,” said Hubbert. “We lost, but a lot of positives carried over. We feel like they grew up a whole lot.”

Loachapoka enters the contest as a technical No. 3 seed. The Indians finished in a tie for the Region 4 lead and lost the coin flip.

“We feel like they’re a lot like American Christian,” said Hubbert. “They are big, strong and fast. We’re going to have to play an almost perfect game.”

Though a rematch would be nice, the coaches have made it a point to keep Holy Spirit off their players’ minds.

“We really try to preach to our guys its one game at a time,” said Hubbert. “Beat them every play, that’ll get through the quarter. Beat them every quarter, that’ll get you through the half. Beat them both halves, that’ll get you through the game.”

The Indians and Red Devils kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday in Maplesville.

Lowndes Academy (8-3) vs. Pickens (6-4)

Friday marks Lowndes Academy’s first home playoff game in two years.

The last time the Rebels played host to the opening playoff game, they advanced to the AISA Class AA state title game.

The Rebels’ record this year isn’t as impressive as that of the team that advanced to Troy, but coach Art Sullivan has confidence in his team’s prospects.

“We’d like to end up in Troy,” said Sullivan. “We haven’t played our best game yet. If we can put it all together and play our best game, we can beat anybody.”

Pickens enters the contest 6-4, but three of its losses came against top-ranked teams Southern, Tuscaloosa and Monroe.

“They may be the toughest team we play this year,” said Sullivan. “I think we’re about even. Whoever makes the least mistakes and gets after it hardest is going to be the winner.”