By Jonathan Deal
The Athens celebration after upsetting No. 6 Center Point is over.
While the bus ride home along Interstate 65 was fun, The Golden Eagles have moved on. Another tough opponent awaits in the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs.
Friday’s game against Pleasant Grove will be the first home playoff game held at Golden Eagle Stadium since 2006. Hard to believe for a team that has only missed the playoffs three times since 1990.
The last postseason game played at Golden Eagle Stadium was a semifinal game against J.O. Johnson on Dec. 1, 2006. Since then, Muscle Shoals has gone from perennial doormat to two-time defending region champion while Athens was thrown into a region featuring Cullman, East Limestone, Hartselle and Russellville.
“When you play the region that we play in, you are prepared to play anyone,” said Creasy. “When those kinds of teams finish ahead of you, you have to travel.”
Athens has played in eight postseason games and made the playoffs five times since winning the state championship seven years ago. They have been on the road in every first-round playoff game since 2006. Even when AHS did win its opening round game, the Golden Eagles were forced to travel in the second round in 2009 and 2010.
By comparison, Athens hosted eight playoff games during Creasy’s first six years at the school from 2000-06. The unlikely drought sets up what should be a great atmosphere at Golden Eagle Stadium Friday.
“When you play a team that you aren’t that familiar with, it’s always good to get them at home.” said Creasy about Pleasant Grove. “They are very aggressive offensively and they defend the run extremely well and put pressure on the quarterback.”
Look no further than what Pleasant Grove (10-1) did to their opening round opponent, Etowah. The Spartans blanked the No. 3 team in 5A Region 7, 40-0. Etowah (7-4) had not been held below 17 points in any other game this season.
Athens and Pleasant Grove kick off at 7 p.m. Friday.