BALDWYN – That surprising blip on the Class 2A football radar is the Baldwyn Bearcats.
Remember them, the 2A state champions in 2008?
Almost forgotten after a winless start through five games, the Bearcats have rebounded like a champion with seven straight wins, the latest a 47-12 victory Friday over the West Tallahatchie Choctaws in the second round of the 2A playoffs.
“We’ve still got to take it like any other game, even though its important,” first year coach Michael Gray said. “Whoever we play next is going to be locked and loaded for us because we beat them in the playoffs, ended their seasons last year.”
Up next for the Bearcats (7-5) in the third round will be West Bolivar, which defeated Eupora Friday. Now in the rearview mirror of Baldwyn is West Tallahatchie (5-8), which offered plenty of resistance through the first half of play.
The Bearcats began the contest with an impressive opening possession, a 16 play, 77-yard drive.
A key fourth-down conversion pass to Seth Swinney of 22 yards set up another fourth down situation. Tanner Gaines again found Swinney, this time for a 10-yard touchdown.
The Choctaws responded in the second quarter as quarterback Jarvis Pigue turned a simple sweep into a 47-yard score. Baldwyn kept its momentum with a 7-yard scoring run by Gaines.
The last word
West Tallahatchie came back with a 41-yard reception for a score by Henry Hampton from Pigue on a fake punt. But Baldwyn had the last word in the half as Bradley Boose grabbed a tipped pass from Gaines and turned it into a 60-yard TD with 1 minute, 12 seconds left in the half and a 21-12 lead.
“At first we were able to throw the football, and that spread them out,” Gray said. “That opened up the running game, and I think we wore them down.”
On its first possession of the third quarter, Baldwyn ran eight of nine plays, completing a 73-yard drive on a 1-yard plunge by Tyler Estes. The Bearcats added a 4-yard run by Boose in the third quarter, then saw Channing Penson score on an 11-yard pass, and Kolin Grice score on a 7-yard run in the fourth quarter.
“We knew this team had the potential, and each week of the first five of the season we asked them to hang in there,” Gray said. “You could see them getting better.”
David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal