THE ROAD TO JORDAN-HARE: Bobcats begin journey towards state title

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Orlando Lacey makes players miss last week against Elba.

Orlando Lacey makes players miss last week against Elba.

The No. 4-ranked Opp Bobcats will face a familiar foe on Friday night when they host the Hillcrest-Evergreen Jaguars in the opening round of the Class 3A state playoffs at Channell-Lee Stadium in Opp.

Opp and Hillcrest-Evergreen had been in the same region for the past few years, but reclassification before the season split the teams into different regions.

The Bobcats swept their way through Class 3A, Region 3 to clinch the title and a No. 1 seeding heading into the state playoffs. Hillcrest-Evergreen finished in fourth place in Class 3A, Region 1 and will be a No. 4-seed in the playoffs.

“They are team that we have played as region opponents the last two years,” Opp head football coach Brent Hill said of Hillcrest-Evergreen. “Like the past two years, they are still athletic and explosive. You have to remember, this was a team that was a four-seed last year also and they made a run to the semi-finals.”

This will be the 16th meeting on the gridiron between the Bobcats and the Jaguars with Opp holding the series lead 10-5. Last year, Opp defeated Hillcrest-Evergreen 26-21.

“We know that they are good team,” Hill said. “At this point in the year, you know that every team you play is going to be a good team and you are going to get their best effort. We have to come in ready to play no matter who the opponent is going to be.”

As for Hillcrest-Evergreen, Hill said the Jaguars like to mix it up on the offensive side of the ball.

“They are going to pass the ball just as many times as they are going to run it,” Hill said. “They will line up in spread and then the next play they will be under center. It’s a really balanced offense.”

Hill said that focusing on assignments would be the key to slowing the Jaguars’ attack.

“On defense, we are going to have to be ready to defend the pass at also close down on the run,” Hill said. “There is no perfect play that you can call to stop both options, and if they notice you overloading they will take advantage of it. We have to be sound in our assignments and be ready to adjust.”

The Bobcats will continue to run their offense based on what the opposing defense is showing, Hill said.

“We are going to have to be ready to adjust depending on what they are giving us,” Hill said of the Bobcat offense. “They are going to run man and also zone coverage. We just have to keep doing what we have been.”

The Bobcats are excited about starting the playoffs, but at this point, Hill said all they are focused on is Friday’s first-round contest with Hillcrest-Evergreen.

“We have to focus on one game at a time,” Hill said. “Right now, we can’t worry about the bigger picture. We have to take one game at a time.”

This year on offense, the Bobcats have been led by senior quarterback Orlando Lacey.

Lacey has put up 1,091 yards passing and 13 touchdowns through the air this season. Lacey also added 873 yards rushing with 12 touchdowns, and 130 yard receiving with 2 touchdowns. On defense, Lacey had two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown.

Hennis Washington led the Bobcats with 1,036 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns. Washington caught six touchdown passes and had 357 yards receiving. On defense, Washington led the team with 7 interceptions.

Tye Lindsey has also been a big part of the offense with 497 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns. Lindsey has also added a kickoff returned for a touchdown and an interception returned for a score.

The Bobcats leading tackler this season has been Austin McCart with 95 tackles and two sacks.

Tree Lane is the Bobcats’ sack leader with five. Lane has also added 83 tackles on the year.

E.J. Reed has four sacks on the season for Opp and Dylan Dee finished the regular season with three sacks.

Opp and Hillcrest-Evergreen will kickoff at 7 p.m., Friday at Channell-Lee Stadium on Opp.