Patriots face Bear of a challenge Friday

Linden High Patriots run through tires at the end of preseason practice.

LINDEN – Fresh off a 46-35 Jamboree win over Class 1A power Pickens County, the Patriots will step up to take on Class 2A Leroy Friday night.
While the Leroy Bears have seen a great deal of success over the last decade in a spread offense that featured prolific passers and talented receivers, legendary head coach Danny Powell is now at Jackson and his successor bolted for greener pastures earlier this summer. That leaves new head coach Jason Bates, who was hired late in the summer.

Bates’ lack of time with the program has left Linden High head coach Andro Williams wondering exactly what scheme his team will see Friday night.

“From what I understand, they’re going to be in the (I-formation) and running the midline vere option,” Williams said before conceding that his team may encounter something completely different than what he expects. “They have a new coach and it is week one, the first game of the season. We don’t know what we’re going to see.”

While Williams is uncertain of what offensive and defensive schemes he team may encounter, he is relatively confident he knows what the environment in Leroy will be like.

“I don’t know if the environment is like it used to be when I was the defensive coordinator at Sweet Water and we were down there. But it should be interesting, that’s all I know,” Williams said. “They are a team that has won five state championships since 2004. You’ve still got people down there that know what’s going on and know how to win.”

Regardless of the coaching, the scheme or the personnel on the field, Williams understands that winning in Leroy means minimizing mistakes and putting together drives.

“We’ve got to go down there and put our best foot forward, play lights out and try to help ourselves,” Williams said.

As his team gets its final tune-up before beginning region play, Williams will look to build upon the successes of last week’s Jamboree contest while simultaneously looking to improve in certain key areas.

“I thought we blocked well. I thought we were pretty physical,” Williams said of his offensive line play in Pickens County before noting that he was also pleased with the overall play of his tight ends and wide receivers.

The biggest question marks for the Patriots going into the game were on the defensive side of the ball, where Linden lost a great deal of talent in its front seven.

“We’ve got to do a whole lot more work up front,” Williams said of the play of his very inexperienced defensive line. “I definitely thought they played hard, but at the end of the day, we didn’t play the way we wanted up there. We’ve definitely got to do a better job of finding ourselves up front. But our linebackers and our secondary, I thought we played well for the most part.”