Bobcats go all out till end

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 19, 2015

Raheem Bonam has been a key part of the Bobcats' offense for several years, and this season took on an even bigger role with the defense.

Raheem Bonam has been a key part of the Bobcats’ offense for several years, and this season took on an even bigger role with the defense.

The Bobcats’ (8-4) season came to and end on Friday night against undefeated Gordo, but it was another strong season for Opp behind the leadership of second-year head coach Brent Hill.

“I hate the season is over, and I wish we could have gone a little further,” Hill said. “Looking back on the season, though, I can see some great things that we did, as well as some things we need to improve on. These kids have been a blast to coach and they are just a great group of young men. I’m also very thankful for this senior bunch, they have done everything they have been asked and I’m sure going to miss them.”

Opp started the season off strong, picking up four-straight wins before a Sept. 25 clash with cross-county rival Andalusia. The Bobcats entered the game as 3A top 10 team and the Bulldogs came in top 10 in 4A. It was a hard-fought game from start to finish, but at the end Andalusia won 19-16 and handed Opp their first loss of the season.

“If you look at our results, you see that two of those losses we were right there in them against Andalusia and Miller,” Hill said of Bobcats’ win/loss record. “If we correct one or two mistakes, we end up on the other side.”

A week later, the Bobcats matched up against another top 10-opponent in the T.R. Miller Tigers. It was another strong game for the Bobcats against their Class 3A, Region 1 rivals, but the Tigers just barely got by Opp with a 27-26 win.

The Bobcats responded the following week with a 52-6 thrashing of Excel, but then lost to Bayside Academy in game that move the Bobcats into third place in Region 1.

Opp surged in the final two games of the regular season with a 43-7 win over Cottage Hill and then traveled to Elba and knocked off the previously undefeated and No. 1-ranked 2A Tigers.

“I really felt like after the loss to Bayside, we sort of turned the corner,” Hill said. “We got more physical and focuses, and really just turned it up a notch. After that we were able to go to Elba and Midfield and get wins against very good teams. It all just came together after Bayside and really started to click.”

In round one of the AHSAA state playoffs, Opp traveled north to Midfield where they hammered Midfield 48-20 to advance to the second round.

The second round saw the Bobcats host undefeated Gordo for the second time in two years. Gordo’s high-powered offense and fierce defense led by the No. 1 linebacker prospect in the country, Ben Davis, topped the Bobcats 33-14 and eliminated Opp from the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.

“From the first game to the last game, I really felt like we improved each week, individually and as a team.” Hill said of his Bobcats. “Every one of our seniors really stepped into leadership rolls this season, you can’t just pin point one. I could talk about how much Ty White has done for the team, or about how much bigger of a role that Raheem Bonam took over this season, but it was every last one of them that stepped up as leaders. I will miss these guys next season just like I miss the guys that graduated the year before.”

The Bobcats offense was led the season by the four-headed monster of Orlando Lacey, Raheem Bonam, Reggie Thompson and Hennis Washington.

Junior quarterback Lacey returned this season after suffering a season-ending knee injury midway through last season. Lacey was 95-of-171 passing for 1,429 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also rushed from 1,006 yards and eight touchdowns.

Senior running back Bonam rushed the ball 105 times for 622 yards and seven touchdowns, and caught 12 passes from 199 yards and two scores. Bonam also two interceptions while playing full-time in the defensive secondary.

Junior running back Washington picked up 617 yards on 84 carries and eight touchdowns.

The sophomore multi-threat Thompson caught 32 balls from 484 yards and eight touchdowns, and also carried the ball 33 times for 398 yards and five touchdowns. In limited quarterback duty, Thompson completed 2-of-5 passes from 53 yards and two touchdowns.

Senior Ty White had 30 carries for 110 yards and four scores, and senior Alex Wise had 10 catches from 195 yards and one touchdown.

Senior Parker Bracke added nine catches from 90 yards and senior Garrett Short had six catches for 39 yards.

Defensively, the Bobcats were led by seniors Devontae Williams, Brandon Williams and White along with junior Tramekquez Lane.

Devontae has racked up 136 tackles and four sacks to lead the way for Opp.

White totaled 103 tackles and one sack, and Brandon picked up 21 tackles, two interceptions and one sack before an injury cut his season short.

Other seniors for the Bobcats defense were Kody Phillips, Eli Hattaway, Cameron Breedlove, Justin Finley, Talon Flowers and Evan King.

Phillips finished with 21 tackles and one sack, Hattaway had 21 tackles, Breedlove had five tackles, Finley had one tackle, Flowers had one tackle and King had four sacks and two interceptions.

These 14 Opp Bobcats played their final football game for Opp High School last Friday night; Ty White, Raheem Bonam, Devontae Williams, Marquavis Hall, Kody Phillips, Brandon Williams, Parker Bracke, Lucas Worley, Garrett Short, Cameron Breedlove, Tyler Lubert, Eli Hattaway, Justin Findley and Alex Wise.

“Football really is about life,” Hill said he tells his kids. “Just like in life, you have to work hard and bounce back from disappointment. The best way to bounce back is to look at what you have to improve and work hard. That is something I hope that all the players, especially the seniors, take with them through life.”