It’s time to put on the pads again!

Published 6:17 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Every coach I have ever talked to in my 42 years of covering Bainbridge High School Bearcats football have been in agreement on one specific point.

From J.B. Roland, the first Bearcats head coach I covered in 1970, to current head coach Ed Pilcher, they have all felt that they won’t really get a good read on how much their team has progressed until they don pads for the first time.

Pilcher’s fifth Bearcats team, along with other Georgia High School Association (GHSA) member teams, will put on their pads, and actually start hitting, for the first time today.

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While the coaches have a point about not having a true read on their team until they go into full pads, from what I’ve witnessed first-hand, watching the Bearcats work in shorts and helmets, I think they will be just fine.

The key to a team performing well in the split-back veer offense — which Pilcher used to win five state championships at Thomas County Central High School — is having a strong running game, and the Bearcats do.

Senior running backs Terry Lewis and Damian Bouie are both fast and elusive.
Many people I have run into around town in recent weeks want to talk about the Bearcats and their prospects for the 2012 season. They are excited about the great leadership that more than 30 seniors are poised to provide.

I don’t know how the Bearcats will do this season, and I’m not one for making predictions, but after watching them in their spring and summer workouts on the field and in the weight room, I can guarantee you one thing. No other high school football team in Georgia, or anywhere else as far as that is concerned, will work any harder or be in any better shape than the 2012 Bearcats.

Many times I have heard Pilcher tell his team that he wants them to be in shape and the best-conditioned team on the field, week-in and week-out, in the fourth quarter.

Off-season and in-season weight room training are critical to the ultimate success of any high school football program.

Strength and conditioning coach Kelvin Cochran, who also coaches linebackers, does an outstanding job of monitoring the players’ progress in the weight room.

I am firmly convinced that the combination of strong weight room sessions and strong spring and summer workouts in shorts will bring success when the pads go on.

Come on out and watch some practice sessions. The coaches and players will appreciate the support and I guarantee you will enjoy yourself.

Joe Crine is the sports editor of The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at