Pine in playoffs for first time since 2006

Published 11:45 pm Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pine makes its first playoff appearance since 2006 tonight and takes a nearly five-hour trip to Rosepine to battle the Eagles in the bi-district round of the Class 2A postseason.

Rosepine is located about eight miles south of Leesville.

“Everybody’s excited,” Pine coach Bradley Seal said. “It’s nice to be back in the playoffs. Everybody’s ready for Friday night.”

Seal said the Raiders have never won a playoff game. He said a win would be huge for the program.

“Right now we’re taking it one game at a time,” Seal said. “After the season, it’d be nice to sit back and reflect on.”

Pine (4-6), the 23rd seed, hopes to break a two-game losing streak, while 10th-seeded Rosepine (6-4) is looking for its fourth straight victory. The streak has been with three close games, each decided by two or three points.

Quarterback Derrick Dillon leads the Raiders.

Last week he passed the 2,000-yard mark in rushing and enters tonight’s contest with 2,162 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns. Dillon has also thrown for 824 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. The pick he threw in last week’s 28-16 loss to St. Helena Central was only his fifth turnover in the past two years.

Pine’s offense will be facing a Rosepine defense that has played consistently this year, coach Danny Smith said.

“Pine has some playmakers,” Smith said. “Defensively, we have to be where we need to be. I know special players, and the Dillon kid is a special kid. We may have to bend, but we can’t break very often. Special players make guys around them better.”

One of those players around Dillon is wide receiver Devonta Pigott, who returns to the lineup after missing last week’s game against St. Helena Central with a hamstring injury.

“He’s a big play, deep threat, number one passing target,” Seal said. “Any time he can get vertical, he’s got a chance for a big play.”

Two of St. Helena’s touchdowns last week came off special teams. The Hawks returned a kickoff for a score, and another occurred after the Hawks recovered a onside kickoff.

Seal said middle linebacker Dustin Provost had a strong second half last week.

“He stepped in when Tyrais (Robertson) got hurt (jamboree week),” Seal said. “He’s got good instincts on the inside and can find the football.”

Seal said Pine’s defense will face a style it’s familiar with in Rosepine.

“They run the ball with a couple of running backs,” Seal said. “They don’t make a lot of mistakes, and they don’t turn the ball over. It’s similar to the Popes and the Northlakes.”

Rosepine’s offense is led by the ground game of Noah Martin and Stanley Hogan, who have most of the carries, yards and touchdowns.

Martin has run 126 times for 732 yards (5.8 per carry) and 11 touchdowns, while Hogan has gone for 785 yards on 113 attempts (6.9) and eight scores.

“They’re both different, but they’re both tough,” coach Danny Smith. “They both run hard. They have great vision and balance. They protect the ball, too. That’s one thing I emphasize. As a running back, you have to take pride in securing the football and not turning the ball over. They appreciate those guys up front, and good backs do that.”

Smith also credited fullback Daniel Welborn for getting the tough yards and helping create holes for Martin and Hogan to run through.

Welborn has 48 carries for 327 yards (6.8) and two TDs.

As a team, the Eagles have 2,159 yards rushing and 438 passing.

Quarterback Eric Kyle is 21 for 46 (45.6 percent) for 388 yards and four touchdowns.