Bainbridge-Cairo rivalry continues

Published 8:18 am Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The long-time Bainbridge High School Bearcats-Cairo High School Syrupmakers football series, which renews Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Field, is always special to me.

As a 1962 Cairo High School graduate, and having spent 42 years covering the Bearcats for this fine newspaper, I have seen the Bearcats and Syrupmakers square off many times.

The late coach West Thomas, a member of the Grady County Sports Hall of Fame for whom the Cairo High School football stadium is named, and coach Spencer “Onion” Davis a member of the Decatur County Sports Hall of Fame, coached the Syrupmakers and Bearcats during my high-school years.

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They were two outstanding men and coaches with outstanding records, but they were also much more than that. They were two of the best role models for young people that I have ever known.

The connections between the two schools and football programs are many. My brother Tom was a Syrupmakers offensive lineman, under Thomas.

Former Bainbridge High School principal, Decatur County school superintendent and Cairo High School athletic director Ralph Jones played quarterback for the Syrupmakers under Thomas, and was head football coach at both schools.

Jones, who is a member of both the Grady County and Decatur County Sports Halls of Fame, led the 1982 Bearcats and 1990 Syrupmakers to State Class AAA football championships.

Bearcats defensive line coach and new head baseball coach Brian McCorkle played under Jones with the Syrupmakers.

The connections between the two schools’ classy football programs are many.

Former Bearcats quarterback and Cairo High School athletic director Carlton Gainous is now a Cairo High School assistant principal.

Todd Jones, coach Jones’s brother, is the current Cairo High School athletic director and an assistant principal.

On a personal note, Thomas’s dear wife, Mrs. Elsie Thomas, taught me typing in high school and her patient instruction were instrumental in my securing and keeping a job I love for 42 years.

The Bearcats are coming off a season-opening 33-14 loss to the East Gadsden High School Jaguars on Friday, Aug. 24, at Centennial Field, and the Syrupmakers are coming off a 21-0 victory over the Thomasville High School Bearcats, this past Friday night at West Thomas Stadium.

None of that gives any indication of how Friday night’s game might turn out, however. Bearcats head coach Ed Pilcher and Syrupmakers head coach Tom Fallaw will have their teams primed and ready.

Games between the Bearcats and Syrupmakers are always well played on both sides and more times than not the verdict is in doubt until the fourth quarter. Last season, the game was close throughout, with Bainbridge pulling out a 17-14 win at Cairo.

In November, I will be will be going to Cairo for my 1962 Cairo High School class’s 50th reunion.

While I like to see the Syrupmakers do well when they are playing anybody else, I’ll be wearing my purple and gold colors and pulling for the Bearcats on Friday night. Get there early. It should be exciting.

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