Rivalry games rarely call for coaches giving impassioned speeches or resorting to motivational tactics to get their teams ready to play.
But Pisgah head coach Luke Pruitt made sure the message hit home with his Eagles this week in advance of their game this week against rival Section.
Pruitt remembers a lackluster effort from his team combined with an inspired one from Section that resulted in an 18-6 Pisgah loss last season.
“It’s still one that makes you sick. We didn’t match them (intensity wise),” Pruitt said. “I’ve reminded our guys about that.”
Pisgah (2-2) gets another shot at the Lions when it hosts Section (1-3) Friday at 7 p.m. at Sam Kenimer Stadium. It’s also Homecoming for PHS.
It’s the 39th meeting between the county rivals in a series Pisgah leads 27-11.
Both teams enter the rivalry game looking to rebound from tough losses. Pisgah suffered a 38-8 loss to Class 5A Boaz last week while Section fell 37-7 to Class 2A Region 8 foe Cedar Bluff.
Section head coach Chris Hammon, who will get his first taste of the SHS-PHS rivalry, said the Lions’ chances depend upon “Section being the best Section it can be.”
Hammon said missed assignments and errors in “fundamentals” doomed the Lions in their three losses.
“Right now we’re focused on Section getting better. It’s just fundamentals stuff, mistakes in blocking schemes, things we’ve got to do better at,” Hammon said. “If we do the things we’re supposed to, we’ll be OK against anybody we play. It’s all about taking care of our mistakes.”
Pruitt said Pisgah must be shore up its defense, which allowed 33 points in a one-point loss at New Hope and 38 points to Boaz over the past two weeks.
“We’ve got to get lined up and get after it,” Pruitt said. “We’ve struggled to stop people. We’ve got the ability to. We’ve got to read our keys and just do what we’re supposed to do.”
Meanwhile, Hammon likened Pisgah’s offense to New Hope’s — Section lost to the Indians 27-0 in the season opener — and said the week of preparation was very similar to when the Lions were preparing to face New Hope.
“They run that double slot offense and run it well,” Hammon said. “It’s similar-type personnel. They’ve got some big guys running it.”
The winning team Friday gains some much needed confidence heading into challenging stretch runs in their respective regions.
“It’s a rivalry game, so I expect it to be pretty physical game,” Hammon said. “It’d be big to win because we need a good run in the second half to have a chance (at the playoffs).”
Said Pruitt, “We’ve got a tough stretch in the region coming up. We need to come out and get a win and get ready for that stretch.”