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Opp looks to bounce back this week

Orlando Lacey swings a pass out to Reggie Thompson.

Fresh off back-to-back close losses, the No. 8 ranked Opp Bobcats (4-2, 2-1) are looking to get back in the win column when they hit the road Friday night to take on the Excel Panthers (1-5, 0-3) in a Class 3A, Region 1 contest.

After jumping out of the gate with four-straight wins, the Bobcats hit a roadblock the past two weeks. Although they dropped two-straight games, it was only by a combined four points (19-16 loss against Class 4A No. 5-ranked Andalusia and 27-26 loss to Class 3A No. 4-ranked T.R. Miller).

After falling behind to Andalusia two weeks ago, the Bobcats showed their heart and fight by rallying in the fourth quarter, but came up just short of the higher-classified Bulldogs. Last week, the game went back-and-forth and once again it was the heart and never quit attitude that put the Bobcats in a position to win the game with just seconds left to play. After scoring a touchdown with 12 seconds remaining in the contest, because of the wet and sloppy playing conditions the Bobcats elected to go for a two-point conversion and the win, but came up just short on the attempt.

“Our season is far from over,” Opp head coach Brent Hill said. “Those two losses hurt no doubt, but we still have a lot of football to play. You worry about how the guys will handle two emotional games like that, but I feel like they have handled it pretty well. They know we are close, but there is still room for improvement.”

This week the Bobcats will face a Panthers team that has been held out of the win column for since the second week of the season when they defeated Millry 20-14.

Last week, the Panthers were defeated by Region 2 foe Hillcrest-Evergreen, 52-23.

The Panthers come into the game with 82 points scored on the season, and have given up 180 points. The Bobcats on the other hand, have put 193 points this season and have only given up 154 points.

“On offense, they (Excel) will room some veer, I-formation, and they will go from the spread,” Hill said. “They have a good looking quarterback and running, but our biggest focus this week will be on us.”

Defensively, Hill said that the Panthers will be in a 3-3 and 4-4, and that they like to slant and bring pressure.

When the Bobcats are on offense, Hill said they will continue doing what they have done all season. The Bobcats offense is all based on what they see in the opposing defense. If they are back out of the box, the Bobcats will run the ball, and if the defense stacks the box, the Bobcats are more than capable of unleashing a strong passing attack.

“Our offense will be the same and we want to try to go quick with it,” Hill said.

Hill said that the biggest key for the Bobcats this week would be to get more constant.

“One thing we have to do is be more constant on both sides of the ball,” Hill said. “Offensively, we have to do a better job in the red zone.”

A win against Excel would almost certainly give the Bobcats a postseason berth. Currently the Bobcats are tied for second place in the region with Bayside Academy, who the Bobcats will play next week.

Through the Bobcats first six games, junior quarterback Orlando Lacey has been one of the key components of the Opp offense. Lacey has thrown has completed 55-of-97 passes for 654 yards and five touchdowns, and on the ground Lacey had picked up 581 yards and another five touchdowns.

Besides Lacey, Opp has also had strong seasons from Raheem Bonam, Reggie Thompson and Hennis Washington. Bonam has 398 yards rushing with four touchdowns. Washington has rushed for five touchdowns and 392 yards. Thompson has been the Bobcats biggest receiving threat, and has 18 catches for 244 yards and two touchdowns.

Kickoff between the Bobcats and the Panthers will be at 7 p.m., on Friday.