Scrimmage yields positives

Published 4:35 pm Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Some very positive things came out of the Bainbridge High School Bearcats preseason scrimmage victory over Albany’s Dougherty High School Trojans Friday night at Centennial Field.

The first was the play of the special teams.

Junior place kicker and punter Keenan Adams gave the Bearcats a 3-0 lead when he kicked a 27-yard field goal early in the second quarter. The kick was so strong it would have been good from 10 yards farther away.

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Another special teams play that brought the crowd to its feet was a 97-yard kickoff return by junior Shawn Samuels, who probably possesses the most pure speed on the team. Samuels is a very versatile player. In addition to returning kicks, he also sees duty at wide receiver and defensive back.

Offensively, I thought the Bearcats moved the ball well under the leadership of quarterback Rohan Gaines and the solid blocking of the offensive line anchored by center Jackson Kendrick.

Running backs Thomas Smiley and Jeremy Harper both ran hard in the scrimmage and picked up some key yardage. They didn’t go down on the first hit, but rather kept their legs churning and picked up extra yardage. Tight end Markieth Chrispen blocked well and had a big catch.

The Bearcats had some fumbles Friday night, but they were not a result of a lack of effort. On the drive leading to Adams field goal, there were two fumbles deep in Trojans territory, but both were recovered by the Bearcats.

The split-back veer offense the Bearcats run is a high-risk, high-reward offense. If you take care of the ball and minimize fumbles and interceptions, the odds are pretty good that you are going to break some big gains.

That is what the Bearcats hope they can do Saturday night when they take on the defending State Class AAA champion Cairo High School Syrupmakers at West Thomas Stadium in Cairo.

It will not be easy. The Syrupmakers graduated a lot of outstanding players from their undefeated 2008 State Class AAA championship team, but they always have good athletes.

You can be sure of one thing—Bearcats head coach Ed Pilcher and Syrupmakers head coach Tom Fallaw will have their teams ready Saturday night.

The Bearcats and Syrupmakers, who are long time rivals, always get up for each other. Both teams will play hard and leave everything on the field Saturday night.

There are so many connections between the two schools and the two communities.

Decatur County School Superintendent Ralph Jones, who played quarterback for the Syrupmakers and coached at both schools, led the 1982 Bearcats and 1990 Syrupmakers to state Class AAA championships.

Cairo High School Athletic Director Carlton Gainous is a former Bearcats quarterback and coach who quarterbacked the 1974 Bearcats to a 19-14 victory over the Valdosta High School Wildcats at Centennial Field. Quarterbacking Valdosta that night was Buck Belue, who went on to quarterback the University of Georgia Bulldogs to the 1980 NCAA National Championship.

Last but not least, I am a proud graduate of Cairo High School, class of 1962. Yes the connections are many.