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Pickens County wants to focus on details


By Ben Price, Special to The Dispatch



REFORM, Ala. -- Pickens County High School football coach Patrick Plott knows how well his Tornadoes have played this season. 


Now it is a matter of paying attention to the little things to keep the postseason run going. 


Pickens County (11-0) will play host to Addison (9-1) at 7 tonight in the second round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 1A playoffs. 


Also tonight, Lamar County (10-1) will travel to Mobile Christian (8-3) for a 7 p.m. start in a second-round Class 2A game. 


Pickens County has stayed perfect by balancing a powerful running game and a stingy defense. Plott said an attention to detail will be required to win the final four games needed to capture a state championship. 


"Sometimes you take the little things for granted," Plott said. "That is what we are working on. If there is that one minor thing we are not good at, that is what we are working on in practice. You don't want to make this far and lose because of something you can control." 


Last season, Pickens County lost to Marion County 42-41 in the state semifinals. 


"This team is excited because we know what we are capable of doing," Pickens County quarterback Devonte Simon said. "The end of last season was so disappointing. We don't want to go through that again, so we have worked really hard because we want to play for a championship." 


Pickens County racked up 536 yards in a 36-13 victory against Gaylesville in the opening round of the playoffs. Devonte Simon and Jermarcus Brown topped the 100-yard rushing mark. 


"The offensive line has made the most improvement of any group since the start of the season," Plott said. "Jermarcus is a great back, and he does not need a lot of help. However, the play of the line has allowed us to have more balance. Last season, we were too one-dimensional in the playoffs. This season, we feel like we have different things we can do on offense and different looks we can give other teams." 


Addison shared the Class 1A, Region 6 championship. The Bulldogs' lone loss was a 34-20 setback to Falkville. Addison opened the playoffs with a 48-0 victory against Phillips. 


"The biggest challenge is to continue to play well on offense," Simon said. "We have a lot of confidence, and we need to find a way for that to continue. We feel like if we have a good game on offense there is nobody in the state that can beat us." 


When the season began, Plott knew his squad would have to play better defense to win in November. The Tornadoes are allowing 10.2 points per game, but Plott knows the margin of error is much smaller with each elimination game. 


"We are focusing on cutting out the mental mistakes," Plott said. "Everybody at this time of year is good. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will advance. We like our chances each Friday night. However, we have to play to our potential or the season could be over." 


In Mobile, Lamar County will attempt to win a second-round playoff game for a second-straight year. Last season, the Bulldogs were put out in the third round. 


Coach Ken Adams feels like that experience has helped his team. 


"I don't think they are intimidated by anything," Adams said. "Going on the road in the playoffs is a challenge. We are looking forward to seeing what we can do." 


By virtue of securing the top seed in Class 2A, Region 4, Lamar County opened the postseason at home with a 32-21 victory against Samson. 


"We started slow, but (we) did a real nice job of doing what we needed to do to advance," Adams said. "You are always cautious about the first game, especially when you are in a position where you are supposed to win." 


Other than a region loss to Aliceville, Lamar County (10-1) has been on the mark all season. It enters tonight's game on a five-game winning streak. 


Senior Dallas Cockerham leads the Bulldogs with 1,125 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Tim Harton, Alex Wheeler, and Ryan Barham have all run for 400 or more yards. 


Lamar County thrives on the ground. Quarterbacks Cockerham and Cullin Carter have combined to throw for 400 yards and four touchdowns. 


"Our offensive line play has been really great in the second half of the season," Adams said. "When you play championship-type games, you have to run the ball. It allows you to control so many aspects of a game." 


Joshua Smith and Ty Herron lead the way with 64 tackles apiece. Dusty Vann has five of the team's 10 interceptions. 


Mobile Christian won its first seven games before losing three straight to end the regular season. The Leopards bounced back with a 55-27 win at Elba to open postseason play. 




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