Bearcats’ season ended by defending champ in 61-22 playoff loss

By JAMES PHILLIPS,

It is difficult to defeat a defending champion in any sport, and it’s an especially tall order to defeat the reigning champion in the Mississippi High School Football Playoffs. This is what the Forest Bearcats were tasked with when their playoff draw matched them with the defending Class 3A state champions Jefferson Davis County for their first round playoff game.

Forest entered last Friday’s game with the confidence that the defending champions could be beaten and had their chance to end their reign over 3A football at home on L.O. Atkins Field. The higher seeded Bearcats gave the visiting Jaguars all they could handle during the first half of play but lost some ground just before half and went into half time down by twelve at 26-14.

When the teams returned to the field after halftime Jefferson Davis County seemed to raise their level of play and outscored the homestanding Bearcats 14-8 in the third quarter. As it happens so often during playoff football the fourth quarter changed the game as the defending champions played like champions and capitalized on Forest mistakes to run away with the playoff win by outscoring the Bearcats 21-0 to defeat the Bearcats 61-22.

The loss ends Forest’s 2018 season and the defending champions move forward to play another week. The Bearcats finish the season with a record of 7-5 and Bearcats’ head coach Jonathan Worrell will look to build on the positives this year when preparations for next season begin. Due to injury issues throughout the season the Bearcats were able to get many young players valuable playing time and will look for contributions from those players in the seasons to come.

Forest senior RB Paul Hughes finished off another impressive season and even after fighting through some injury issues rushed for over 1,100 yards and 13 TDs on the year and accounted for over 1,200 all purpose yards for the Bearcats.

The Bearcats did not end the season the way they would have liked, but they did put together a good season while battling through some adversity. Forest fought injury issues at some key points during this season, and lost a Dandy Dozen player to transfer after one game. Through it all Coach Worrell keep his team fighting and coming through to win key games. The Bearcats end the season at 7-5 as the 3A Region 5 runner-up with a playoff berth.