‘Fantastic’ effortPublished 7:48pm Friday, May 17, 2013
It only took new Bainbridge High School football coach Jeff Littleton one word to sum up his team’s effort in Friday night’s scrimmage at Centennial Field.
“Fantastic,” he said. “Their effort was fantastic. Their pace got better every practice and they got better every day, working on the fundamentals. We had a really great effort out here tonight, on both offense and defense.”
A crowd of nearly 200 people watched the scrimmage at Centennial Field, getting a first look at the kind of team that Littleton might field at Bainbridge. Littleton was hired in March, after spending eight seasons as the defensive coordinator at Cairo. He replaced Ed Pilcher, who resigned after five seasons of leading the Bearcats and is now the coach at Berrien.
Pilcher’s teams were known for running the veer-based offense, while Littleton’s team primarily ran out of the I-formation. In its basic set, first string quarterback Preston Norris lined up under center, with Tremain McCray at fullback and Aaron Calloway at tailback.
The Bearcats’ faithful might have seen something else that was different from Pilcher’s run-based offensive scheme — Littleton’s quarterbacks threw the ball and threw it often. Norris hooked up with Vic Bodison for two touchdowns — one over the middle on a seam route and another down the right sideline on a fade route.
He also connected with Bodison on a 33-yard reception to the Defense’s 2-yard line, late in the scrimmage. Cedric Jones then punched it in for a 2-yard run.
Norris also completed passes to Greg Cooper, McCray and tight end Russell Wheeler, among others. One especially creative play took place when McCray blocked a defensive player at the line, and then broke out wide open to the left flat for a short gain. Cooper had several strong catches on short curl routes and hitches.
“We definitely like the intermediate passing game,” Littleton said. “But we also had some long vertical plays today, as well. Our quarterbacks did a good job.”
The Bearcats also had some productive running plays during the scrimmage. Cedric Jones had a 60-yard touchdown run with the first-team offense, and seventh grader Dameon Pierce had several long scoring runs. Elijah Tyler and Trey Stubbs also had several powerful runs.
While Littleton was happy with the offense’s performance, he was equally pleased with the play of his defensive players, who forced several fumbles and sacks. In one series, a low shotgun snap was fumbled and Calloway, who was playing at linebacker, picked the ball up and ran it for a 30-yard touchdown.
In the last offensive series of the scrimmage, the first-team defense started with the ball on the defense’s 10-yard-line, allowing the Bearcats to practice goal-line defense. The defensive players held on a fourth-and-goal from the 6.
“There were a lot of gold helmets flying out there tonight,” Littleton said. “We really got after it on defense and forced a number of turnovers. That was great to see.”
The scrimmage did not have any scoring, down-and-distance or running clock, allowing the coaches to practice a number of situations. While the team was initially separated into strings — the starting defense had red helmet caps and the starting offense wore white with gold helmets — as the scrimmage went on the coaches began mixing and matching players.
“We wanted to make sure that everyone got a chance to play,” Littleton said.
The Bearcats will host Chamblee in a pre-season scrimmage game on Friday, Aug. 23, and then open regular season play against visiting East Gadsden High School from Florida on Friday, Aug. 30.