Bearcats Football Preview Week 7: Westover

Published 8:01 am Wednesday, October 4, 2023

The Bearcats enter region play this week. Their first opponent is Westover High School. The Patriots are 3-3 on the year. 

“Right now, we want to focus on ourselves,” said Bearcats head coach Jeff Littleton. “Making sure our technique and fundamentals are correct and making sure we’ve got everybody in the right positions.”

Littleton said region play is when it really matters, saying each game “counts for playoff seeding.” 

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The Bearcats come into region play off a tough six-game non-region schedule. The team went 4-2 against a slate of high-ranked, higher classified opponents. 

The shift from non-region to region play serves as a natural break in the season for the Bearcats. Littleton reflected on what his team had done in the first half of the season.

“We’ve created some depth in a few positions by playing tougher competition and making sure that our kids are competing with each other,” Littleton said. “We play a tough schedule like that to make sure that we have the pieces of the puzzle in the right place.” 

The team has had a two rotation shift on the defensive line and in the linebackers group throughout the season, according to Littleton. The Bearcats have also utilized two-way players, mainly wide receivers, to add to the depth of the defensive backs.

The Bearcats have experimented on the offensive side of the ball, playing “two or three” different players at center, according to Littleton. The team has also worked on being able to move linemen from one spot on the line to another. 

Littleton said the team has developed two or three roles at the tight end position. Even with the more solid parts of the offense, the team has gotten sophomore backup quarterback Brooks Hines playing time. The Bearcats have also experimented with the wildcat formation, playing the running back in the quarterback position. 

Littleton said the Bearcats have grown in their ability to execute on the offensive side of the ball in the first six games of the season.

“The execution in the past two games has been pretty good,” Littleton said. “We’re improving. We’ve improved probably since the first two games in that perspective.”

The Bearcat defense started this season without important starters from last year, something Littleton prepared for over the offseason. 

“We knew we were going to struggle a little bit trying to find key positions,” Littleton said. “The most improvement has probably been on the defense. They’re getting better each week.” 

Littleton said the special teams have been solid with senior kicker Nicholas Tyre and sophomore backup Riggs Rentz, along with freshman Eduardo “Junior” Hernandez supplying some inter-position competition.

The team’s cast of 21 seniors makes this season unique, according to Littleton, the 11-year Bearcat head coach. 

“Our senior class is pretty well rounded,” Littleton said. “We have a good mix of linemen and a good mix of skill guys. It’s one of the largest senior classes that we’ve had. We’re an older team, an experienced team.”

The Bearcats will play four region matchups to finish the regular season and dictate playoff rankings. Littleton said he’s focusing on growing his players as more than just football players to continue the Bearcats’ success to the end of the season.

“Focusing on being disciplined on the grass and in the classroom,” Littleton said. “Just being a better person. Champions are usually champions everywhere. They’re not just champions on the football field… how you do one thing is how you do everything.”