Game of the Week: Keith prepared for matchup with No. 4 Linden

Published 12:08 am Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Keith Bears (1-0) have the matchup of the week on Friday as they host the No. 4 Linden Patriots (1-0) on Friday.

The Bears had the benefit of an early bye week to prepare for Friday’s game. After it’s week one 38-28 win over Billingsley, the bye week provided the Keith players time to recover and for the coaches to scout out the Patriots.

“I know it was an early week, but we needed it to get our guys back playing at 100 percent,” Keith head football coach Anthony Lumpkin said.

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The Patriots opened the season with a 52-0 win over Sumter Central.

“We had the opportunity to go watch them and they dominated the game,” Lumpkin said. “They didn’t show much in week one, but we know they like to spread it out and they try to run it down your throat.”

The Patriots have several players to look out for, but Lumpkin keyed in on Graderius Brown, Denzelique Mosley and Kevin Green.

“We have to tackle well,” Lumpkin said. “They run the ball hard and they block well, so we just have to get off the blocks, make plays and see what happens.”

Linden has made the playoffs in the past 11 seasons. The 2017 first round playoff exit was an anomaly for a team that consistently reaches to the second and third rounds of the playoffs.

The Bears were a consistent playoff presence in Class 2A before the team was re-classified to Class 1A during the offseason.

Keith and Linden are both in Region 3, which makes this early season matchup all the more important.

The region is stacked with talented teams such as the No. 2 Maplesville Red Devils and an Isabella team that finished in second place in 2017 with its only loss to the region champion Red Devils.

Even though Keith won its first game, the team still had errors it needed to correct. Ball security and penalties were issues that made the Billingsley game more difficult for Keith.

Keith quarterback Jared Edwards fumbled three times and threw an interception against Billingsley, but was fortunate that the defense and the running game was able to overcome those errors.

Lumpkin spent the two weeks of preparation focusing on cleaning up those problems.

“We’re trying to perfect the things that we do, and get in the mindset to be ready to play [Linden,]” he said. “We’ve been stressing protecting the football. If you don’t have the ball, it’s going to be hard for you to win the game. We can’t put it on the ground.”

The Bears have the benefit of playing at home in back-to-back games.

“Hopefully, it will help us out because we’ll be in front of our home crowd,” Lumpkin said. “Get the fans behind us to push as a little bit and cheer us on.”