A new enjoyable experience

Published 8:25 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I have been covering high school football for this fine newspaper for more than 40 years, and I thought there was nothing I had not experienced during that time.

Well, I thought wrong.

This past Saturday, I did something I had never done before in those 40 years.

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For the first time in my many years as a sports journalist, I covered a high school football game at 2 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon.

I have covered numerous games on Saturday nights at Hugh Mills Memorial Stadium in Albany, but covering a 2 p.m. Saturday game was a new experience.

Coach Ed Pilcher and his Bainbridge High School Bearcats made the new experience very enjoyable by posting a convincing 35-14 Region 1AAAA victory over the Northside High School High School Patriots at Columbus’ Kinnett Stadium.

The Bearcats offense, defense and special teams were hitting on all cylinders.

Offensively, a pair of juniors, quarterback Steven Bench and running back Aaron Hall, led the way.

Bench sneaked a yard for a touchdown and threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rohan Gaines, and Hall had touchdown runs of 35, 17 and 8 yards.

Defensively, senior end Dewayne Gurley and senior defensive backs Gaines, Shawn Samuels and Delonte Martistee turned in their usual strong efforts.

Samuels also had his usual big night on special teams, returning three punts for 67 yards including a long return of 33 yards that set up Bench’s 1-yard touchdown sneak.

Also making a major contribution was freshman kicker Daniel Provence, who kicked all five Bearcats extra points.

Although the game time was unusual and the opportunity to cover a high school football game on a Saturday afternoon was a first for me, the whole experience was really enjoyable.

My dear friend, Billy Simmons Jr. who assists Bearcats certified athletic trainer Chris Summers on the sidelines during games, and I left for Columbus around 9:30 a.m. Saturday. We arrived between 12 and 12:30 p.m.

After finding the stadium, we decided to look for some place to get a bite to eat.

We found a small local barbecue restaurant not far from the stadium, and the food was really great.

Billy, who has cerebral palsy, is an inspiration to me and a lot of other people in Bainbridge and Decatur County. He enjoys life and doesn’t let his condition bother him one bit.

Saturday was a unique experience for me and Billy, and I hope we enjoy many more together.

This Friday night, the Bearcats, who are 3-3 overall, 1-2 in Region 1AAAA play and right in the thick of the race for one of the four Region playoff spots, will host another Region foe, the Houston County High School Bears, at 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Field.

See you at the game.