November 27, 2013 5:28:27 PM
Scott Walters - firstname.lastname@example.org
REFORM, Ala. -- Pickens County High School football coach Patrick Plott believes his team has done well this year rising to a challenge.
Now facing one of the program's biggest hurdles, Plott is ready to see his top-ranked Tornadoes perform.
Plott will have to wait until 7 p.m. Friday when Pickens County (13-0) plays host to Hubbertville (11-2) for the Alabama High School Activities Association Class 1A North State championship.
"They always have been ready to compete," Plott said. "They have a lot of fun playing the game. They also have a great work ethic in practice. They do all of the little things right to make sure they are ready to play on Friday nights."
Pickens County has fallen in the North State championship round three times. The last setback came last season in a 42-41 loss to region rival and eventual state champion Marion County. A win Friday night will send Pickens County to the Super Six high school football state championship game at 3 p.m. Dec. 5 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
"Since I first started playing on the varsity team, my goal has been to win a state championship," Pickens County senior running back Jermarcus Brown said. "We came real close last year. That has been the motivational factor during the offseason.
"Since we know this will be our last home game, we want this to be real special."
Pickens County beat Hubbertville 50-0 on Oct. 11 in Reform. That victory puts Plott and his staff in the unusual position of guarding against over-confidence entering the rematch.
"When you break Hubbertville down, you know they have a good team," Plott said. "You see things they do they can be successful with. The good news is you did win the first game, so you have a little confidence. There will be a lot of emotion, so we will have to guard against that. Hopefully, we can start strong."
In the last two playoff victories against Addison (38-22) and Ragland (41-21), Pickens County has been tied or trailed at halftime. Hubbertville has won six straight, including a 9-8 victory against Berry last week.
"Our main concern is starting fast," Pickens County senior quarterback Devonte Simon said. "It seems like we have been playing tight in the first quarter of the playoff games. We have a lot of confidence, and we know it is just a matter of time until (Brown) gets going.
"I think it will help us to come out and score the first couple of possessions and set the tone. That will help tell us we can do this."
Simon and Brown are two of six senior starters on offense who will play their final home game Friday night. The Tornadoes also have six senior starters on defense.
Having won 24 games in the past two seasons, the program has been building to this point for a long time.
"The goal is to win the championship," Plott said. "We start each year with that being our goal. This season is exciting because we know how close we are to achieving that goal."
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Scott is sports copy editor and reporter