Bearcats look back and drive forward to new season

Published 9:26 pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Bearcats’ game plan for next season began the moment they stepped off the field last Friday in their loss to Ware County. At its core, the plan is three words: bigger, faster and stronger.
“We have two small classes coming up with the juniors and seniors,” head coach Jeff Littleton said. “We’ve got find some depth.”
This past season, the Bearcats went 5-5, culminating in a 49-7 first round playoff loss against the Gators. The majority of the coaching staff was fresh faces for the players, and the players were new to the coaches. The challenge came in getting to know the personnel well enough to implement a culture everyone was familiar with.
“We knew it as going to be a challenge from the beginning, so we wanted to concentrate and simplify things,” Littleton said. “We want to try to get better each, build our offensive and defensive schemes. Take it a little bit at time. I feel like it took us a while to straighten out personnel and get everybody in place where we needed to, especially this first year not knowing the kids. But I feel like we came out at the end better than when we started.”
For Defensive coordinator Brian Hill, the challenge this season was training a lot of players who had never played defense before.
There were some who had never played the sport.
“We started with 11 new starters on defense, new scheme and new system,” Hill said. “There was a couple that had never played football before. It was difficult starting out. Getting the program established, the fundamentals of stuff.”
Hill and the players worked hard to tackle those challenges they faced. He said he saw the team getting better as the year went along, particularly during the Dothan game.
The Bearcats were tied 24-24 with Dothan High School heading into overtime. The Tigers were knocking on the door, but Bainbridge’s defense was able hold them back for three downs. On fourth down, the Bearcats intercepted a pass in front of the goal line and kicked a field goal for the win.
“That was a team that we felt was a quality opponent and we felt that was a quality win,” Hill said. “Other times in the season we got beat at the last second, but we finally pulled on off at the last second.”
Despite the challenges the team faced and overcame this season, Littleton said having support from good coaches and administration made things easier. Hill on defense, offensive coordinator Scott Roberts and offensive line coach Jason Whittaker brought passion and knowledge of the sport to the table.
“My goal was to come in and set a routine,” Whittaker said. “I came in and said this is what we’re going to do, how we’re going to do it and try to be as black and white as we possibly can. This is the line, do it right.”
For next season, the coaches are focusing on getting more consistent, not to mention having the chance to get to know the players better.
“We’ll be around the kids a lot more,” Hill said. “Getting them in the weight room to get bigger, faster and stronger. We won’t start from scratch.”

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