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Exciting times: Patriots excited about team’s potential after opening week of practice

Despite poor weather, the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots began week two of practice on a high note.

“It’s been going pretty good,” Patriots head coach Gene Allen said Monday as his team practiced inside the gym. “We would like to be outside, but we get in a lot of good work in here too.”

The Patriots finished last season 4-6 and have spent the summer preparing for the upcoming season.

“The kids have been working out hard in the weight room and practicing hard,” Allen said. “I think they realize we have a chance of being a pretty good football team this year. They have been taking care of the little things.”

Last year the Patriots were decimated by injuries, and they don’t want a repeat performance so early into camp.

“We have to stay injury free,” Allen said. “Last year we had so many hurt. We can’t afford to do that.”

This season the Patriots have added size on the offensive line, and Allen believes that the returns have been better than imagined.

“The offensive line is doing really well, and we are actually running the ball better than we anticipated early,” Allen said. “We are going to be doing a little more of that.

“They are great kids,” Allen said. “A couple of them are big kids. The are good kids and they are fitting in with the others really well.”

Returning quarterback Reed Jinright will be an important part of the Patriot offense. He averaged 24.3 points per game last season.

“He hasn’t been throwing the ball as well as we would like right now, with him having a year under his belt,” Allen said. “A lot of it is because he is trying to overthrow. He has gotten a lot stronger. He works tremendously hard in the weight room, and his arm is a little strong right now. He his getting better every day.”

The Patriots will have their first live test on August 19 when they travel to take part in the Kingwood Jamboree. They will play a half against both Coosa Valley and Evangel Christian.

The season opens Aug. 26 against Clarke Prep.

“We are trying to work on ourselves,” Allen said. “We are trying to get better. It’s a Catch 22. The jamboree gives us some playing time, but it really doesn’t mean anything. We have to start getting ready to play Clarke Prep because that is where it counts.”