Bainbridge feeling good after bye week ahead of showdown against Cougars

Published 3:33 pm Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Ignore Crisp County’s 3-2 record, said coach Jeff Littleton. The Cougars are a strong football team, one that will require the absolute best from Bainbridge on Friday night as the Bearcats make their second road trip of the season.

“Football is about a game of matchups,” said Littleton. “Your strengths and weaknesses against their strengths and weaknesses. (Crisp County) has a lot of strengths and not many weaknesses. They are a good football team. I expect their absolute best on Friday night, just like I expect our absolute best on Friday night.”

The Bearcats have put their best foot forward so far this season, starting 4-0 and stretching their win streak to 11 games going all the way back to October 2018. After taking advantage of a bye week to improve on fundamentals, Littleton feels like his team is at a better place than it was two weeks ago after beating Brooks County 27-26 at home.

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For example, Bainbridge players drilled running their feet through blocks and tackles, which will improve tackle form on defense and help players avoid committing holding penalties on offense.

“Sometimes it is tough on an off week because you don’t have anything to look forward to on a Friday, but our kids did a good job of working,” said Littleton. “We really worked hard in the weight room last week. We got kids sore again.”

Littleton said having his players hit the weights every day produced a tougher football team both mentally and physically through last season’s playoffs, so it was a major emphasis through last week while the Bearcats didn’t have an opponent to immediately prepare for and could focus mainly on improving themselves.

The Cougars run a dual-quarterback system, with Marquise Palmer (2) working out of the wildcat position and Jack Carter (4) serving as the primary pocket passer. Palmer has 399 rushing yards on 77 carries for five touchdowns. Carter has passed for 461 yards and two touchdowns.

A.J. Lofton (1) also has strong passing stats for Crisp County with 243 yards and two touchdowns.

Littleton also emphasized Crisp County’s strong defense, noting linebacker Christopher Paul, Jr. (11) was a player the Bainbridge offense would need to watch out for. Paul has 26 solo tackles and 38 assists through five games.

The Cougars were 1-3 when they came to Bainbridge last season. They left with a 23-0 shutout over the Bearcats. Turning the ball over and allowing too many explosive plays was the nail in the coffin for that game, said Littleton.

“This week, we are going to really emphasize winning those two facets of the game,” he said. “If we do that, we’ll be in the game in the fourth quarter and hopefully our conditioning will get us a win.”

Bainbridge kicks off against Crisp County at 7:30 p.m. at Crisp County High School in Cordele.