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Midnight Madness fires up Bearcats, fans

Midnight Madness was quite an event in the early minutes of Monday morning.

Since Mon., Aug. 1, was the first day Georgia High School Association teams could officially go into pads, the Bearcats began their midnight madness at 12:01 a.m.

The most impressive part of midnight madness, to me, was the number of fans who came out to support our coaches and young men.

Coach Lea Hawkins and her award-winning Bainbridge High School football and competition cheerleaders were there to keep the fans fired up while supporting the players.

The fans were packed solidly in front of the fence surrounding the field.

The enthusiasm and intensity of Bearcats head coach Ed Pilcher, his staff and players was as high as I have seen it for a long time.

A familiar face to Bearcats fans was on hand to view the madness.

I’m talking about Rohan Gaines, the 2010-2011 Bainbridge High School male senior athlete of the year.

Gaines, an All-Region 1AAAA safety for coach Ed Pilcher’s Bearcats football team and a point guard for coach Rickey McCullough’s Region 1AAAA champion Bearcats basketball team, will be a freshman safety for coach Bobby Petrino’s University of Arkansas Razorbacks football team this fall.

In 2010, Gaines was third on the Bearcats in tackles, with 59, despite missing the final two games of the season due to injury.

Five of his tackles were for losses and he had one quarterback sack. He was named the most improved defensive player at the Bearcats’ annual football awards banquet.

In basketball, Gaines helped lead the Bearcats to a 27-3 record, the Region 1AAAA championship and a berth in the second round of the state Class AAAA Tournament. He led the team in assists, with 48.

Gaines also used his speed to help coach Larry Cosby’s Region 1AAAA champion Bearcats track team. He was a member of the 4-by-100-meter relay team and also participated in the long jump.

Rohan Gaines is an outstanding young athlete and even a more outstanding young man.

He lists his parents, Maurice and Loretta Gaines, his basketball coaches Rickey McCullough and Kelvin Cochran and Bearcats football offensive coordinator Leonard Guyton, as his role models.

He told me that his parents constantly reminded him that, no matter how good an athlete he was or would become, academics always had to come first.

He said his parents also taught him that nothing great ever occurs without hard work and determination.

During his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, Gaines was part of Bearcats basketball teams that compiled an outstanding 81-12 record, made two state AAAA Final Four appearances and won three Region 1AAAA championships.