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St. Pius X brings intrigue, tradition to playoffs

CONYERS - St. Pius X is not the type of football team that needs an introduction.

What they've done on the gridiron the past few years speaks volumes.

The Golden Lions are a perennial playoff team that is fresh off a trip to the state semifinals in 2006.

This year, the Salem football team will face off against the Golden Lions in the first round of the state playoffs.

The Golden Lions are the No. 4 seed from the always-competitive Region 6-AAAA.

St. Pius lost to Marist 21-7 in its last game of the regular season. However, the Golden Lions lost the same game against Marist in 2006. They then went on to win three state playoff games against Dalton (31-14), Pebblebrook (20-18) and Thomas County Central (34-33).

Of course, Salem is no stranger to the Final Four. The Seminoles lost in the state semifinals in 2004.

So it's safe to say that Friday night's first-round clash is a marquee matchup.

This year, both Salem and St. Pius X are putting up solid scoring numbers.

The Golden Lions are averaging 24.3 points per game with a defense that is allowing 14.5.

In comparison, Salem's offense is averaging 25.8 points per game with a defense that is allowing just 9.8.

Although St. Pius X has lost three games this year, the Golden Lions have several notable wins, the biggest a 17-7 win over Mays on Oct. 26.

However, St. Pius X also dropped a 35-0 decision to Tucker and lost 20-17 to Cedar Grove this season.

The key for Salem will be stopping the Golden Lions' rushing attack.

St. Pius X does throw the ball, but not that often.

Instead, the Golden Lions use a rushing attack by committee.

In fact, St. Pius X used 13 different ball carriers in a 55-0 win over North Springs. Cole Moon has put up solid numbers on the ground, rushing for 128 yards and a touchdown against Cedar Grove. Moon also rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown against Stone Mountain and 93 yards against Columbia.

Dylan Knight and Jonathan Carter are also key rushers for the Golden Lions.

This is the first time in 12 years that Salem and St. Pius X have played, and its the first time the two teams have ever met in the playoffs.

The Golden Lions beat Salem in back to back years from 1994-95 - the last matchup a 23-14 loss in 1995.

Brandon Evans can be reached at brandon.evans@rockdalecitizen.com.

SideBar: At a glance

Team: St. Pius X Golden Lions

Record: 7-3

Last year: St. Pius X finished the 2006 season with an 11-3 record. The Golden Lions lost in the state semifinals to Northside-Warner Robins.