Bainbridge to play rival Cairo in Region Championship game

Published 6:06 pm Tuesday, November 3, 2015

For the third time this season, Bainbridge will line up against the Cairo Syrupmakers. This time, though, the Region 1-AAAA title is on the line.

It’s almost as if it was meant to be.

Bainbridge has been in the driver’s seat every game this season, going 9-0 and cruising to represent Sub-Region B at the Region Championship. Though beaten by Bainbridge 21-7 on week two, the rival Syrupmakers (5-4) have beaten the right opponents to represent Sub-Region A and get the chance to play the Bearcats one last time.

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The win at Cairo set the tone for the rest of Bainbridge’s season, but coach Jeff Littleton is warning his player not to let that be an indicator of Friday night’s outcome.

“They understand that was week two,” Littleton said. “So it’s been a while since that week. They’ve seen film. They’ve seen how much better each team has gotten. When you play a team for the second time, you can’t look back on how the other team played. You can look back on how you played and see how you can improve.”

Littleton said Cairo has most certainly gotten better the past eight weeks, and while there is still a game plan tailored specifically for the Region Championship game, he and his players are more concerned with how they have improved.

“We improve our level of play,” Littleton said. “We don’t worry about anyone else’s because we don’t know about them. Worry about the things you can control.”

Control is certainly a word that should be used to describe this Bainbridge Bearcat team. They have controlled all nine of their opponents, outscoring them a whopping 325-102. They have taken control of school records, with quarterback Brett McLaughlin, wide receiver Tyler Storey and running back Dameon Pierce all surpassing the best of the best in Bainbridge’s football history. They have controlled their destiny, and now have a shot at the Region Title.

This has been the goal for Littleton’s 2015 team the moment they lost to West Laurens in the playoffs last season.

“It’s exciting to have a chance to win a Region Championship,” Littleton said. “That’s all we asked for at the beginning of the season—give us a chance.”

Syrupmaker quarterback John Michael Owens is 83-of-173 passing with 904 yards this season and is good at getting the ball in the playmaker’s hands, Littleton said.

“They play solid defense and solid special teams, too,” Littleton said. “We got to make sure we match that intensity.”

Key offensive weapons for Cairo are running back Malik Taylor, who has rushed for 427 yards on 67 carries this season.

Wide receiver D.J. Donaldson is one of Owens’ main targets in the air, with 30 receptions and 306 receiving yards through nine games. Another receiver, junior Jamal Thomas, leads the team in touchdowns with seven.

“We want to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Littleton said. “Working hard each day, taking it one day at a time, one play at a time, and make sure we are focusing on today and making sure we get better each day.”

Kick off against The Syurpmakers is Friday at West Thomas Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Sub-Region A has been chosen to host all Region Tournaments games this season.