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Cats came through in the clutch

As I left Albany’s Hugh Mills Memorial Stadium Friday night following the Bainbridge High School Bearcats’ thrilling 23-20 three-overtime victory over the Westover High School Patriots, I chatted briefly with Bearcats head coach Ed Pilcher.
I congratulated him on the win and commented about how well I thought his defense came up big in key late-game situations.
“They played great the whole game,” he said.
I could not agree more with coach Pilcher’s post-game analysis.
I hesitate to mention names because everyone played so well on the defensive side of the ball.
I did think senior defensive tackle Shammai Wilburn and junior linebacker Marshall Mack both made some big hits.
Offensively, junior running back Terry Lewis had the second-highest single-game rushing total in school history, during a two-touchdown performance.
His 258 yards were second only to former Bearcats running back and wide receiver Phillip Bryant, who rushed for 270 yards in a 28-12 victory over Albany’s Dougherty High School Trojans as a senior in 1983.
As a junior a year earlier in 1982, Bryant was a member of coach Ralph Jones’s State Class AAA championship team. He went on to play wide receiver for coach Bobby Bowden’s Florida State University Seminoles.
Friday night marked the first time in my 41 years as sports editor of this fine newspaper that I covered a three-overtime high school football game.
The Bearcats’ offensive line did another solid job Friday night, opening holes for Lewis and sophomore running back Aaron Calloway. Calloway was filling in for junior Damian Bouie, who was out with an injured ankle. The line also did a good job of protecting senior quarterback Quincy Fortson.
The line was again anchored by junior center Cole Granato. Junior tackle Madison Malone also did a solid blocking job for a third consecutive week.
Special teams continue to do a great job as well. Daniel Provence sealed the victory with a 23-yard third overtime field goal and Paul Soden had a long punt of 41 yards and one punt that was dead inside the Patriots 20-yard line.
The Bearcats enter this Friday’s open date with a perfect 3-0 record.
They will return to action Saturday, Sept. 24, when they travel to Warner Robins for a game against the Northside-Warner Robins High School Eagles, their first Region 1-AAAA opponent of the season.
I am just getting over another bout of gout in my foot and the press box in Albany was very high and required a long climb to reach.
I probably couldn’t have made it without the assistance of my good friend and colleague Brennan Leathers. I clung tightly onto his strong young arm as we made the climb.
In conclusion, I just want to thank coach Pilcher, his staff and the Bearcats players for giving us so many winning thrills the first three weeks of the season.