Cats evaluation pinpoints highlights

Published 1:37 pm Tuesday, October 13, 2009

With their second and final open date of the season having just past Friday night, it’s probably a good time to evaluate the Bainbridge High School Bearcats football season thus far.

With non-Region 1AAAA wins over the Cairo High School Syrupmakers and Early County High School Bobcats, Region 1AAAA wins over the Lee County Trojans and Harris County Tigers and Region 1AAAA losses to the Westside Macon Seminoles and Jones County Greyhounds, the Bearcats are 4-2 overall and 2-2 in Region 1AAAA play.

A major strength of the Bearcats offense, in my opinion, has been their running game. Key contributors to that strengh have been Jeremy Harper and Thomas Smiley, a pair of senior running backs with excellent speed.

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Harper’s biggest night came against Early County at Centennial Field when he turned in a 13-carry, 54-yard, three-touchdown performance. He followed that up three weeks later with a 12-carry, 49-yard, one-touchdown performance against Harris County.

Smiley also had a big game against Early County, leading all rushers with 11 carries for 87 yards.

Harper, one of the most versatile players on the team, has also been one of the Bearcats’ top pass receivers. Two of his biggest receiving nights came against Harris County, when he had two catches for 47 yards, and Jones County, when he had three catches for 76 yards and a touchdown.

Another real positive thing coming out of the season has been the kicking of junior Keenan Adams. His 52-yard field goal against Cairo was a school record. His kickoffs and punts have also been exceptional.

Sticking with special teams for a moment, junior Shawn Samuels did an excellent job on punt and kickoff returns before separating his shoulder against Westside Macon.

Junior quarterback Rohan Gaines has gotten better and better at running coach Ed Pilcher’s split-back veer offense with each passing game.

The offensive line, anchored by senior center Jackson Kendrick, has done their job, opening the holes for Harper, Smiley and Gaines.

I can’t leave my observation of the offense without talking about the contributions of senior wide receiver James Hudson. He had six catches for 66 yards with a long reception of 23 yards against Harris County and three catches for 31 yards against Jones County.

While there is not a lot of throwing in the run-oriented, split-back veer offense, when Gaines drops back to throw, his No. 1 target is usually Hudson, who has arguably the best hands on the team.

Turning to defense, senior defensive tackles Kenny Jacobs and Qwatavaus Middleton have done a good job of stuffing runs up the middle, and senior defensive back Jonathan Warren has come up with some key interceptions.

All in all, the first part of the season has had its share of highlights. I look for even more highlights as the Bearcats drive for a playoff berth in their final four regular season games against Hardaway, Upson-Lee, Americus-Sumter County and Thomas County Central.