Bearcats Drop Opener to Cedar Grove after Fast Start

Published 3:51 pm Monday, August 22, 2022

The Bainbridge High School Bearcats football team had an interesting opening to the 2022 football season as the game was delayed for nearly two hours until play resumed where the Bearcats ultimately fell to a 30-14 loss. The Bearcats still made plenty of plays to excite the packed house at Centennial Field.

The Bearcats took on the reigning 3A state champs in Cedar Grove who have won the last four of five state titles. The Saints are a stacked team again in 2022 with players like four-star cornerback Kayin Lee who is committed to play at Ohio State University and wide receiver Barry Jackson who is committed to Nebraska.

The Bearcats started the season fast as kicker Nicholas Tyre perfectly squibbed the opening kickoff as the Bearcats recovered the kick, sending the sideline into a frenzy. Senior wide receiver Keenan Phillips followed up the terrific special teams as he took a six-yard carry into the end zone, giving the Bearcats a 7-0 lead to start the game.

Defensively, the Bearcat squad was strong and aggressive; one of the qualities head coach Jeff Littleton always speaks to as a point of emphasis. The biggest play came at the end of the first quarter as the Bearcat defense held strong against the Saints and stopped them three straight plays inside the ten yard line.

Defensive back James Jackson deflected a ball intended for Barry Jackson on third and goal, forcing the Saints to kick a field goal making the game 7-3.

Although players like Dariyon Smart and Dontavious Broadnax were flying around making tackles, it was only a matter of time before the playmakers at Cedar Grove found their rhythm. In the second quarter, Saints quarterback E.J. Colson connected with Nebraska commit Barry Jackson for a 53 yard touchdown, giving the Saints a 9-7 lead.

Offensively, Keenan Phillips had a productive day as he not only rushed for a touchdown, but took a screen pass 40 yards to the eight yard line.

“Keenan is one of our guys,” said Littleton. “We really just need to do a better job of getting the ball in his hands more so he can keep making those plays.”

At the end of the second quarter, the Saints put together a productive drive as running back Quinterio Lawson took a one yard carry into the end zone, giving the Saints a 16-7 lead.

Shortly after the touchdown, lightning struck the Decatur County area and the players were sent into the locker room with three minutes left in the second quarter. After a two hour delay, play was resumed but the Saints never gave up the lead.

One big play, however, came at the end of the game when Antavious Murphy took a carry for over twenty yards into the end zone, making the score 30-14. Despite the loss, head coach Jeff Littleton and the Bearcats know it is still early in the season and they have plenty to learn.

“I don’t like the fact that we let our emotions get to us but that’s what happens when you play a great championship team. They’re going to test you,” said Littleton. “I’m proud of the fact that we finished and never gave up but we’re going to learn from this.”

The Bearcats will set out for redemption next Friday as they take on Coffee at 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Field.