BY RICK WRIGHT –
Friday night the Bearcats thumped a very talented, highly favored, Malvern Leopard football team that has four runningbacks that can go the distance on any given play, but the Bearcat defense contained them.
“No doubt about it, you’ve got to give credit to the defensive players and coaching staff,” said Bearcat Head Coach Tim Harper. “Just did a phenomenal job keeping Malvern in front. Keeping shoulders square with the line of scrimmage, not creating extra gaps to defend. Then flying to the ball making tackles. Making them earn it play after play, down after down. Jut couldn’t ask for a better job out of those guys.”
When the Bearcat defenses did their part, the offense stepped up and put points on the scoreboard.
“You’ve got to give credit to those kids too,” said Harper. “Kids like Donovan Barrett, Kaleb Reeves, Noah Swall, Jackson Sullivan and Nick Kent, all of them up front doing some good work. We ended up rushing for about 6.5 yards per carry on the evening. Then we threw for right at another 100 yards, so just very proud of our kids and effort they put in. And the kicking game kept giving us a short field all night. Our longest drive of the night was 60 or 70 yards. Just very proud of them.”
Senior Ryan Ozanich not only ran the ball tough, but also layed out and made a spectacular catch in the end zone.
“That was a beautiful catch,” said Harper. “We need to see that more often. But Ryan has made that play many a times in his career as a Bearcat and I hope to see him do it a few more. Just very proud of him as a leader. Ryan is like having a coach out there. He knows every position’s job. If a kid doesn’t know what to do, if they can’t get to the sideline to ask one of the coaches, they can always ask coach Ryan, he does a good job.”
Junior quarterback Carson Cannon took another step forward the way he ran the ball against Malvern.
“No doubt,” said Harper. “The week before I was a little disappointed at Carson at Ashdown. There was a few times in the game when we really needed to move the stickes, we needed to get a first down, it was crucial to us to get a first down. It was fourth and one on one particular time and Carson saw the hole, but he thought he could get more by going outside. That’s a little bit of fools gold for us in this league that we play in, because everybody is so fast. You better take the yards you know you can get rather than take a chance on something bigger. This week he took the yards that were there, that was available to him. It just so happens that sometimes when you do the right thing it pays off big time and he made a 50 yard run for a touchdown. Take what they give you, don’t be impatient, and it can happen. It might be the next play. Don’t worry about touchdownbs, lets get first downs. Touchdowns will come.”
“So, I was really proud and I do think Carson took a step forward,” said Harper.
“That was speed option football, very much like the wishbone where you have to be assignment oriented. They have to take care of the pitch and the quarterback. We saw they had one guy to defend two. We call that play and he hits it for a big one,” said Harper. “Never would dream he’d take it 50 yards on one of the fastests teams in the state but he did. Just very proud of Carson and the work that he puts in everyday, not just on game day.”
Bauxite took a beating last week. The Bearcats have been playing teams the last two weeks, where Mena was not the favorite. But the Bearcats will be the favorite this week. How is the mindset of the Bearcats going into this week’s game so that we don’t set up a trap game?
“We don’t need a trap game,” said Harper. “No doubt about it. I told our kids this morning, that the only team that can beat them this week is themselves. If you show up and and lay an egg, or you let Homecoming be the most important, the Homecoming Royalty or the dance or parade be the most important thing we could fool around and let Bauxite come in here and steal one. But if we show up and practice this week like we want to get better, each day and each week, I think we can take are of business and let everyone have a good time Friday night. But we have got to show up and play Bearcat football which is a promise we’ve made, 48 minutes of all we’ve got. And if we do that I think we will be fine this week.