Game of the Night Preview: Ariton vs Geneva County

Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 7:08 PM CDT
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HARTFORD, Ala. (WTVY) - Dixie Howell Stadium in Hartford will serve as the backdrop for this week’s WTVY Game of the Night.

The Ariton Purple Cats are looking to move to 2-0 in region play in hopes of repeating as region champions while Geneva County is out to prove it is the top dog in Class 2A Region 2.

“I know they are going to be a bunch of hard-nosed kids,” said Geneva County head coach Jim Bob Striplin. “Big, strong, and fast. Got a lot of playoff experience coming to the table so it’s going to be a great challenge and one I really hope we are up for.”

“It’s huge getting off to a great start,” said Ariton head coach Steven Kilcrease. “We know this is going to be one of the teams to beat in our region and we feel like we are as well. We just have to take it one game at a time and hopefully we are 2-0 Friday night.”

The Purple Cats enter the game 2-1 on the season. Standing in their way of their first 3-1 start since 2017 is a dominant Bulldog offense led by one of the nation’s top running backs, Emmanuel Henderson.

“We really just have to corral him on defense, don’t let him get to the outside, and keep him contained,” said Ariton senior Chase Hughes. “We have to get turnovers where we can, get that ball back for our offense, and go down the field and score.”

“He’s going to make some plays. You can’t go into a game and expect to shut that caliber of a player down,” said Kilcrease. “Get to ball. That’s our big thing and limit him in that capacity. End of the night, if he’s got 200 yards rushing and maybe one score, we’d live with that.”

As for Geneva County, they have improved drastically on the defensive side of the ball allowing just 27 total points through the first two games.

They’ll need that same kind of play come Friday to slow down an Ariton offense that likes to score.

“You have to be prepared to take a blow and then give one also,” said Striplin. “They are going to punch. We’ve got to punch back. We have to be prepared to throw the kitchen sink at them and that’s what we’re prepared to do.”

“We haven’t really discussed it, we’ve just shown it with our actions,” said Geneva County quarterback Will Birdsong. “Just as a whole team. It’s not just one or two people giving effort, it’s the whole defense, the whole team, giving all they can.”

While a loss doesn’t eliminate either team from the playoffs, with the tough region these teams are in, a win could go a long way in helping either team earn a spot in the post season.

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