Title-hungry Bobcats ready

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 5, 2015

Orlando Lacey has been a key feature in the Bobcats' high-scoring offense.

Orlando Lacey has been a key feature in the Bobcats’ high-scoring offense.

The Opp Bobcats (7-3, 4-2) look to start the 2015 AHSAA 3A state playoffs with a bang when they travel just south of Birmingham to take on the Midfield Patriots (6-3, 5-1) on Friday.

This will be the first meeting between the Bobcats and the Patriots, and according to the national weather reports, it could be a rain-soaked evening. Reports show an 80 percent chance of rain for the Birmingham area on Friday.

“It’s going to be a rainy game against an athletic team, so we will see what happens,” Bobcats’ head coach Brent Hill said. “This week we will keep a bucket of wet balls to prepare for Friday.”

Midfield earned home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs after finishing second place in Class 3A, Region 3 behind Montgomery Academy.

This season, the Patriots’ offense had to replace their star quarterback, but new quarterback James Reasor has stepped in and helped lead the offense to a 27.2 point per game scoring average.

“The quarterback and wide receiver are both the coach’s sons and they really understand what is going on,” Hill said. “The quarterback can throw the ball, but he also has the ability to hurt you with his legs. The key for us will be to get pressure on him and force him to make tough throws.”

Hill said that the Patriots will run a spread offense and want to keep the ball in the air.

“We have to be sound in our coverage,” Hill said. “They want to sling the ball all over the field. Pressuring the quarterback and containing the running lanes will be key for us.”

The Patriots are also led on offense by senior running back Cedrick Russell and junior Thomas Sims. The Patriots offense scored 245 points in nine regular-season games.

On defense, the Patriots had to replace graduating All-State linebacker Ethan Williams from last season’s playoff squad. Stepping up in Williams’s place has been Malcolm Wilson. Wilson, along with Ahmad Isaac, patrol the secondary for the Patriots’ stout defense. The Patriots have allowed just 16.7 points per game this season.

The Patriots will stack the box with a 4-3 defense and show a few variations of cover four in the secondary.

“There are multiple ways we can keep our offense going,” Hill said about what the Bobcats would do on offense to counter the Patriots’ defense. “We can go with quick screens, vertical passes or run the option.”

Midfield comes into the game on a two-game win streak after defeating B.B. Comer 47-15 and Fultondale 33-14.

“The key for our offense will be staying with positive plays and making that plays that are there,” Hill said.

Opp also comes into the game riding back-to-back wins. Two weeks ago, the Bobcats crushed Cottage Hill 43-7 and last week Opp knocked off previously unbeaten Elba 20-14.

Hill said the Bobcats picked up a lot of confidence following the win over Elba.

“We have been so close all season,” Hill said. “Every game we have played has been close, but we might have been missing something here and there. Last week, it all came together against Elba. It’s a huge boost of confidence going into the playoffs and the guys know that is the effort it will take each week in the playoffs. It’s all or nothing from here on out, you either win or you go home.”

The Bobcats’ offense has averaged a blistering 32.6 points per game this season, and has been led by junior standout Orlando Lacey.

Lacey has completed 79-of-142 passes this season for 1,156 yards and 12 touchdowns to go along with 904 yards and seven rushing touchdowns.

While Lacey has been the leader, the Bobcats have several offensive weapons in Raheem Bonam, Hennis Washington and Reggie Thompson.

Bonam is the team’s second leading rusher with 565 yards and seven touchdowns on 86 carries.  Bonam has also caught 10 passes for 179 yards and two more touchdowns.

Washington has rushed for 458 yards and seven touchdowns on 71 carries, and has added seven catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns.

Thompson is one of the more dynamic offensive weapons for the Bobcats, having picked up touchdowns passing, rushing and receiving.

Thompson has carried the ball 27 times for 306 yards and three touchdowns, and has caught 29 passes for 429 yards and seven touchdowns. Thompson has also thrown a pair of touchdowns to bring is season total to 12.

Alex Wise has also helped out the Bobcats’ offense with 10 catches for 195 yards and a touchdown.

On defense, the Bobcats have been led by Devontae Williams, Tramekquez Lane and Ty White.

Williams leads the Bobcats with 111 total tackles and four sacks. Lane has picked up 91 tackles and three sacks. White has 84 tackles and one sack. Evan King has also been a force for the Bobcats with 38 tackles and three sacks.

Thompson, along with being a statistical monster offensively, leads the Bobcats with two interceptions.

Hill said that he doesn’t expect inclement weather to postpone the game, but if it were to be postponed, AHSAA Director of Communications, Ron Ingram, said that the game would then be played Saturday.

Kickoff between the Bobcats and the Patriots will be at 7 p.m., Friday in Midfield.