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Fourteen seniors lead the Bulldogs into the final game of the regular season, and it is this group that has quietly guided New Albany to its 7-3 record.
“They’ve flown under the radar all year, in my opinion,” coach Ron Price said. “A lot of folks haven’t talked about them and they had a lot of pressure on them to live up to the standards our kids set for us last year.”
“It’s 14 quality kids, and all of their names are not in the spotlight on Saturday mornings, but they’re a great group of kids, and their leadership has been tremendous.”
The Bulldogs face Lewisburg tonight, who have posted a positive 6-4 record, but are 1-3 in division play. The Patriots are averaging 32 points a game and are coming off of a 38-14 loss to North Pontotoc.
“They’re coming off with their chances of making the playoffs very slim, so I know the coaches are building this game up as their playoff game,” Price said.
“Their record is a big improvement over what they’ve done the last few years, and I know they would love nothing more than to come in on our senior night and pull the upset, but hopefully we’ll be focused.”
New Albany’s close win over Rosa Fort last week marks the third time in four games the Bulldogs have won by less than 10 points. In those wins, New Albany defeated Senatobia, North Pontotoc and the Lions by a combined nine points. Price hopes to put the Patriots away early, carrying that momentum into the postseason.
“It’s been a battle every game this year, and we expect nothing less Friday night,” he said. “Hopefully our kids will be focused on what they’re doing and keyed in on what they need to do and eliminate all the mistakes we’ve made the last couple of weeks, and we’ll line up and play our best football game of the year.”
Christensen named to MS/AL All-Star roster
Rounding out this year’s senior class is a four-year manager that will represent New Albany in this year’s Mississippi/Alabama All-Star game.
Michael Christensen has worked for the team since Price took over in 2008, and he credits the senior for his dedication to the program, earning him the spot in the all-star game.
“He has been a very important part of our program the last four years,” Price said.
“To be a part of the all-star game is a prestigious honor, and maybe that will set the standard to get some of our guys in these all-star games. Hopefully Michael has set that standard for us.”
Price spoke of this year’s seniors and their contribution to the program. This year’s senior class is Lawrence Zinn, Jerry Davis, Riley Alef, Josh Hardin, Langston Paepke, Josh Creekmore, Easton Hall, Montrae Triplett, Stan Gilbert, Terrance Riles, Cade Simmons, Mason Maxey and Knox Butler.
“This is a great senior class, and they’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do. I would love nothing more than the send them out with a win Friday night, setting up a successful playoff run in the next four or five weeks.”
Senior night festivities will begin at 6:30 p.m. this evening followed by kickoff of the Bulldogs and Patriots at 7 p.m.