Bearcats prepare for season opener against Indians

Published 4:25 pm Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Bainbridge is still nursing a few injuries with some of its players, but is otherwise ready to kick off its season with a bang Friday night at Centennial Field against Seminole County.

Despite being just 22 miles apart, the Bearcats’ game against the Indians will be the first time the two teams have ever played. Bainbridge is 4-1 against the city school prior to it becoming a county school. The last game they played was in November 1929, when Harry Shealey coached the Bearcats to a 13-0 win. Future Bainbridge Head Coach and Alabama All-American Football player James Bubber Nisbet was a ninth grade end for the Bearcats.

Nisbet, of course, won’t be playing for Bainbridge this Friday, but there is still plenty of talent fans will get to see on the field. Head coach Jeff Littleton was pleased with how practice has gone so far this week, and is looking forward to seeing how his team will execute.

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“We showed the film (from Lowndes County) and had some good points of some kids and had some bad things,” said Littleton. “I think the kids did a good job of holding themselves accountable and realizing they made a lot of mistakes and their effort wasn’t there at times. I think they want to get it fixed.”

Bainbridge switched between junior Jackson Wheeler and sophomore Quayde Hawkins last Friday during the varsity portion of a scrimmage against Lowndes County, and Littleton said the team will continue to do that until one of them earns the fulltime starting job. Wheeler helped score Bainbridge’s touchdown against the Vikings on a 13-yard pass to Bryce Worthy.

The Bearcats lost 27-6, but they were also playing a 7A team on the road. The Indians (1-A) will come to Centennial Field Friday.

The Indians run a single wing offense and like to run the ball. Their leading rusher from last season, senior Shamal Hopkins (24), ran for 383 yards on 87 carries and scored 10 touchdowns. He also plays linebacker. Another running back, Tymir Groomes (14), also plays linebacker. Both players are similar sizes, coming in at about 6-feet tall and between 220 and 240 pounds.

Quarterback Ty Moulton (11) will start for the Indians, and sophomore Stacy Butler (2) is also expected to get some touches at running back. Last year he rushed for 162 yards on 22 carries and scored once.

Much like it’s run heavy offense, the Indians’ defense is built to stop the run as well. They base out of a 4-4 formation and routinely stack the box with eight or nine players.

“We want to see more execution this week,” said Littleton. “Make sure the effort is there. I want to see kids flying around on defense, getting all 11 gold hats to the ball. Offensively, just executing some of the concepts we have been working on all summer. Seeing some rewards out of it.”

Senior offensive lineman Jacob McLaughlin hurt his knee during last Friday’s scrimmage, and is expected to be out for a few weeks. Ben Mitchell is also still rehabbing a hurt knee from earlier this summer. Wide receiver and corner back AJ Cooper is recovering from a hamstring injury and will likely not play this Friday.

Caleb McDowell, who did not play last Friday as he finished up recovering from an ankle sprain, has been playing full-go in practice.

The Bearcats will kick off against the Indians Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Field.