Bearcats remind me of 1993

Published 9:12 am Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Bainbridge High School Bearcats football team accomplished something under head coach Ed Pilcher this season that a Bearcats team had not previously accomplished since 1993.

The Bearcats’ thrilling 27-24 Region 1-AAAA regular-season-ending overtime victory over the Thomas County Central High School Yellow Jackets Friday night at Centennial Field gave them an outstanding 8-2 regular season record.

The victory also nailed down the third seed in Region 1-AAAA, where they finished 5-2,  and secured a berth in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs.

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The Bearcats will take on the Ware County High School Gators, the No. 2 seed in Region 2-AAAA, Friday night in Waycross.

The last time the Bearcats posted a regular season record of 8-2 was 1993, when they defeated the annually powerful Valdosta High School Wildcats, 10-7, in Valdosta.

Coach Sonny Smart’s Bearcats advanced all the way to the Class AAAA semifinals that season before losing 28-3 to the eventual state class AAAA champion Dunwoody High School Wildcats at DeKalb Memorial Stadium.

It was the senior season for Bearcats defensive back Kirby Smart, son of Sonny, who also coached the Rabun County High School Wildcats, and Sharon Smart.

Kirby earned Region 1-AAAA defensive player of the year honors that season and  went on to earn All-Southeastern Conference and All-academic Southeastern Conference honors with the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

He is now defensive coordinator with the annually powerful University of Alabama Crimson Tide.

Bainbridge running back Jonathan Butler was the Region 1-AAAA offensive player of the year in 1993.

The starting quarterback for the Bearcats in that great 1993 season was Jeff Summerlin, who is now the play-by-play radio voice of the Bearcats.

Pilcher, his fine staff, and the Bearcats players are to be commended for the great accomplishments they have achieved this season.

It has been a true team effort. The offense, the defense and the special teams units have contributed week in and week out.

You don’t have the kind of season the Bearcats have had, without everybody contributing.

Ware County was in our region for quite a few years, so Friday night’s trip to Waycross should be a very familiar one to many local fans.

We should let the Bearcats coaches and players know how proud we are of them by driving over to Waycross Friday night and filling the visiting stands to capacity.

Their character, hard work and dedication have brought a lot of positive publicity to their school, their city and their county.