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• CLASS/REGION: Region 1-AAAA
• 2013 RECORD: 5-6; lost 49-7 to Ware County in opening round of playoffs
• COACH: Jeff Littleton (2nd year)
• RETURNING STARTERS: RB/DE Tramaine McCray (Sr, 5-11, 200); TE Russell Wheeler (Jr., 6-1, 200); WR/DB Victor Bodison (Sr., 5-8, 150); OL/DL Demetrius Edwards (Sr., 5-9, 245); OL Christian Glover (So., 6-0, 200); OL Josh Williams (Sr., 6-0, 190); OL Charles Hightower (Jr., 6-0, 330); DL/OL Calvin Isom (Jr., 6-2, 230); LB Elsamar Williams (Jr., 5-10, 205); DB/WR Shawn Herring (Sr., 5-8, 150); OLB Dalin Mack (Sr., 5-9, 170)
• TOP NEWCOMERS: DE/TE Hudson Reynolds (Sr., 6-3, 200); RB/OLB Tony Hurst (Sr., 5-8, 160); QB/DB Elijah Tyler (Jr., 5-10, 165); DB/WR Curtis Keaton (Jr., 5-9, 150); DE Trey Stubbs (Jr., 5-10, 185); LB/FB Jordan Martin (Jr., 5-10, 185); WR/DB Tyler Storey (Jr., 6-0, 175); K Evan Oldaker (Jr., 5-11, 200); P/WR Clark Wiggins (So., 5-10, 150); OL/DL Ladarius Garnes (So., 6-1, 220); RB/OLB Dalvin Spivie (So., 5-7, 165); LB Kerenski Williams (So., 5-11, 170); OL Glenn Cooper (Sr., 5-9, 260); OL Curtis Brown (Jr., 6-0, 200)
• 2014 SCHEDULE:
Aug. 29 — at Early County
Sept. 5 — Cairo
Sept. 12 — Monroe
Sept. 19 — at Thomas Co. Central
Sept. 26 — at Crisp County
Oct. 3 — Americus-Sumter
Oct. 10 — at Worth County
Oct. 17 — Dougherty
Oct. 31 — at Westover
Nov. 7 — Region play-in game
• MOVING TO CLASS AAAA: The Bainbridge Bearcats are all of a sudden the big boys of Region 1-AAAA.
Because of the GHSA’s isolation rule, the Bearcats dropped a class during the offseason and with an enrollment of 1,499 students will tower over smaller Region 1-AAAA schools like Albany High (912), Worth County (942) and Dougherty (954).
But Bainbridge coach Jeff Littleton said a lower class won’t necessarily make for an easier season for the Bearcats.
“I think our new region is going to be tougher simply because there are more quality teams,” Littleton said.
Last year, four of the six Region 1-AAAAA teams made the playoffs. This year, 10 Region 1-AAAA teams will be fighting for the four playoff spots.
“From top to bottom I feel like it’s even tougher than our previous region,” Littleton said. “Plus we are bringing one of those teams (Thomas County Central) over with us who was one of the better teams in 1-AAAAA.
“But at the same time it will be exciting to play some local teams that are closer to us, and hopefully we will have some bigger crowds compared to playing against Columbus-area teams. We are excited about our new region.”
• A NEW ATTITUDE: Littleton took over the Bainbridge football program last year, but it wasn’t until this summer when the former Cairo assistant truly saw his team buy into his system.
“Everything is different,” he said. “Attitude-wise, everything is different.”
Littleton said he is proud of the progress his team has made since finishing 5-6 last season.
“They want to be successful,” he said, “and they know that it takes more than football skills to be successful. It’s a pleasure coaching them because their attitudes are completely different than when I was the new guy coming in. It takes time to build relationships between coaches and athletes, and those relationships are a lot smoother.”
• TYLER, MCCRAY TAKING OVER: Two-year starting quarterback Preston Norris graduated, and junior Elijah Tyler is being asked to take over the offense this season.
Tyler saw playing time in last year’s playoff loss to Ware County as a tailback and will bring his versatility and athleticism to the QB position.
The Bearcats’ go-to guy on offense should be senior running back Tramaine McCray, who will also star on defense as a linebacker.