FHS wins Region 5 crown with win over Kemper County

By JAMES PHILLIPS,

The Forest Bearcats started the season 1-6, but reeled off three straight district wins to take the regular season Region 5 championship under first year head coach Ty Weems. The Bearcats defeated Kemper County 28-18 on the road last Friday to take the district crown.

“We battled through too many injuries to count early in the season,” Weems said. “At one point I was just waiting to see who would go down next, but we came together and fought through this as a team. We got a little healthier over the last couple of weeks and that really showed in our play on the field. We are finally in good shape health wise heading in to the playoffs.”

The Bearcats were so decimated by injuries the coaching staff had to take a distinct approach to every game this season.

“Early in the season we were forced to make a decision to really focus on the district games because of all the injuries we suffered.” Weems explained. “We had a lot of young guys out their playing and giving it their all, but we just came up short in the early part of the season. We dropped one district game to Southeast Lauderdale that we should not have lost, and that put us in a pretty much must win out situation in the rest of the district games, and that’s exactly what we did.”

In the game against Kemper County the Bearcats jumped out to an early lead and had some opportunities to put the game away in the first half, but were unable to capitalize. The Wildcats were able to hang around into the second half before the Bearcats made the plays they needed to secure the big road victory.” 

Dylan Grayson led the Bearcats offense going 4-of-10 passing for 122 yards and two touchdowns, and he added 13 carries for 91 yards and another score on the ground.

Bearcats junior Joshua Nicks gained 140 yards on 21 carries and scored one touchdown on the night. Jhatavious Slack hauled in three catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns for Forest.

On defense Grayson again led with 8 total tackles (2 for loss) and an interception on the night. Junior Jakolbi Smith had two sacks, and the Bearcats defense held the homse standing Wildcats in check forcing three turnovers, with four quarterback sacks and six hurries in the backfield.

With the win Forest moved to 3-7 on the season and 3-1 in Region 5 play. The Bearcats will host Crystal Springs (7-3, 2-3) this Friday night at L.O. Atkins Field for the first round of the Class 3A State Playoffs.

“Crystal Springs is going to be a big test for us. They are well coached and very athletic.” Weems said. “On film they are very similar to Kemper County as far as athletic ability, but they run the ball a lot. They have rushed for like 3,000 yards this season and this will be a big test for our defense. We are as healthy as we have been all year, and we will be playing at home so both of those factors make a big difference. Now we just have to go out and execute and cut down on mistakes Friday night.”

The game between visiting Crystal Springs and the Bearcats will kickoff at 7:00 p.m.