Bainbridge set for next big challenge against undefeated Rickards Raiders

Published 5:41 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Bainbridge coach Jeff Littleton summed up Rickards’ offense in three words: big play capability.

The Bearcats saw that firsthand last season when they played the Raiders in Tallahassee. Bainbridge came out on the wrong end of that one, barely losing 36-34 despite Dameon Pierce running the ball 51 times for 331 yards.

Now Rickards comes to Bainbridge this Friday for Bainbridge’s fifth game of 2017.

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One would expect the Bearcats to have a chip on their shoulder after the close loss last season, but Littleton said the team has that chip every day.

“As a competitor, you always have a chip on your shoulder,” Littleton said. “If you don’t play with an edge, you’re going to take off plays and let some things go by you. You always got to play with an edge.”

That edge he’s talking about has shown itself the past four games, where Bainbridge has outscored its opponents 186-55 and pitched back-to-back shutouts in the last two weeks. Rickards will be a strong test for the upward trending Bearcats.

Senior quarterback Marcus Riley is what makes the Raiders’ offense so explosive. Riley commands a spread offense with big downfield threats and 3-star running back Destin Coates, who has committed to Purdue after fielding offers from programs like Cincinnati, Indiana, Mississippi State and USF.

Riley’s ability to escape the pocket and prolong plays will force Bainbridge’s defense to contain his knack for making big throws on the run.

Riley is committed to Louisville, and can even draw comparisons to current Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson.

“He can be running from the left hash to the right hash and sling it 50 yards down the field,” Littleton said.

Littleton said he thinks the speed on Bainbridge’s defense will be able to contend with Riley and help cover the Raiders’ receivers.

“It’s not just a three-step drop back and throw it,” Littleton said. “He drops back and run over here and over there. We’ve got to contain him and keep him in the pocket. That’s easier said than done.”

Rickards defense lines up in a 3-4 formation and likes to slow down run games with their big defensive tackles, forcing opponents to throw into coverage locked down by a pair of cornerbacks.

“They try to take away the perimeter on you, play some man coverage,” Littleton said.

The Bearcats are working hard for the Raiders and beyond. Littleton noted his players have been practicing particularly hard the past few weeks.

The team is building on what they’re learning every week.

“Kind of adding something to the puzzle each week,” Littleton said.

Bainbridge kicks off against Rickards at 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Field.