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Streaking Paladins open playoffs at home
Pinecrest takes on Trinity Christian
Pinecrest's Kevin Metz (41) returns a punt in a game earlier this season. Metz and the Paladins are looking for a postseason win tonight at home. - photo by Jared Putnam
While Forsyth's other schools might be winding up the regular season tonight, it's playoff time at Pinecrest Academy.

The Paladins (6-3-1 overall) finished second in the GISA's Region 1-AAA with a 3-1 region mark, and tonight they host Trinity Christian School from Dublin in the first round of the state playoffs (7:30 p.m.).

The Paladins have already met the Crusaders (1-9) once this year, beating Trinity Christian 35-21 in an Oct. 3 home game.

Pinecrest coach Charles Wiggins says the Crusaders have adopted a new offensive approach since the two teams met last month, abandoning the spread attack in favor of a more ground-oriented Power I/ Wing-T approach.

Still, the Crusaders — who played in a four-team region this year — haven't topped 16 points in any game, a potential opening for Pinecrest's defense, which Wiggins thinks has improved throughout the year.

Pinecrest has won five of six entering tonight, and Wiggins says the defense has helped set the tone in each of those wins.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Paladins have their share of weapons. Quarterback Zach Wilson leads GISA's Class AAA in passing efficiency (64.63 percent), while Joe Neiner and Kevin Metz are both in the classification's top five in receiving yards, with over 900 yards and nine touchdowns through the air between them.

Fullback Michael Cassandra leads Pinecrest on the ground with 617 yards and six scores, good for seventh in the classification.

Wiggins says the young team still has a tendency to make rookie mistakes, and believes that about 10 plays on the season have made the difference between winning six games and being a 9-1 team.

Still, the coach is looking forward to playing at least one more game in front of the Paladins' home crowd this season.

"We look forward to having our crowd here. Normally they support us every well," he said.