The Pike County Bulldogs are heading into the home stretch of spring training and will end with a purple and white scrimmage on Friday.
New Pike County head coach Mark Hurt is excited about an increase in roster this spring as he and his staff begin to implement their offense and defense.
“So far so good,” Hurt said. “We have a good number of kids here and we have the younger ones training with the older guys so everyone can sort of learn the system. So far so good, that’s pretty much what I expected. We have a lot of new players and new staff, so everyone kind of learns together.
Pike County is coming off the first winless season in school history in 2021, so it only makes sense the Bulldogs would turn to one of their own to restore the traditional powerhouse of Pike County. glory she has held for so many years.
Hurt was an all-state player for legendary coach Wayne Grant on Grant’s first teams at PCHS, in which the Bulldogs earned double-digit wins for the first time ever. Pike County would go on to become a perennial powerhouse in Classes 3A and 4A, winning five state championships between 1988 and 2006.
Hurt said his goal for the spring was simply to get his young group of players to understand the process his team is going through.
“My goal is pretty much to bring the young guys, the college guys, with my college group and practice them together and let them compete in their age groups and learn together,” Hurt said. “We want to make sure everyone learns the system and understands the practice process and how we wanted to practice, while learning the basics.”
Hurts has brought in longtime football coach Dedrick Sumpter as offensive coordinator and Sumpter plans to implement a “broadcast” offensive attacking style. Sumpter, a Mobile native, served as offensive and defensive coordinator at Dothan, Central-Hayneville, Elmore County and Bullock County, but is best known for his nine-year stint as head coach at Williamson where he led the Lions at five. playoff appearances and a 2020 regional championship. He served as head coach at Blount in 2021.
“(Sumpter) is a spread guy with a few two-man sets, working the lunge a lot,” Hurt said. “We’re going to set up a quick passing game and we’ll throw it down the pitch if we need to.”
Meanwhile on defense, Hurt himself sets up the Bulldogs 3-4 defense. Hurt has been an extremely successful defensive coordinator during his career, with stints at Lowndes County (Ga.), Daphne and Central-Phenix City. Hurt also played defensive end of the ball at the University of Alabama State and was also the head coach of Keith, Booker T. Washington and Blount.
“We’ll have several moves down our defense, but right now we’re a little vanilla this spring, so we can do everything from a grassroots perspective,” Hurt said. “The main thing is that we need to get the basics in place, so that our kids understand what we’re doing, because it’s a big change from what they’ve done in the past, both offensively and defensively.”
While Hurt plans to oversee the defense setup himself, he said he will eventually promote a defensive coordinator from the current coaching staff. As Pike County prepares for its purple and white scrum this Friday, Hurt said a number of players have started to stand out, but he hopes the scrum can also develop more depth.
“We’ve got a few guys that have stood out and impressed me over the practices,” Hurt said. “I think the way we’re training right now, for a 3A school, it’s kind of unheard of to have a cross-squad scrimmage because you just don’t have that many players. The way we do it is to try to create depth on both sides of the ball and find out who can play and let them compete.
Pike County’s purple and white scrimmage will begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Bulldog Stadium.