The Battle of 148: C-Z-R (0-4) travels to S-V-W-W (4-0)

by Steve Dunford

The C-Z-R Bearcats and the Edwards County Lions lining up for the coin flip before last Friday’s game at Albion. (Thank you very much to Randall Risley for letting me use the pictures.)

This game has been called the Hyphen Bowl, the Alphabet Soup Bowl or all kids of other things in the past.  However, Johnston City-Crab Orchard-Thompsonville takes the cake for the longest co-op name in BDC history.  That co-op abruptly ended when the Indians were pushed up two classes from 2A to 4A, and came close to upsetting the Mt. Carmel Golden Aces in the playoffs.

It might have been from a column, talk show, or even a social media post but several years ago before they played someone called it the Christopher-Zeigler-Royalton-Mulkeytown-Buckner-Coello-Cleburne Bearcats vs the Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn-Nason-Scheller-Boyd-Cravat Red Devils.

The Bearcats went on the road last week and fell to the Edwards County Lions 42-6.  The Devils went down to Johnston City and came out of Willamson County.

Tonight the Bearcats and the Red Devils will be playing for the traveling road sign of State Route 148 that goes to the winner each year.  A win by the Devils means a playoff birth will be clenched.  With the Black Diamond being a closed conference, a 5-4 record with a guaranteed 45 playoff points is a near lock to play on week 10 each season.

I spoke with Bearcat Coach Anthony Hargrove on the phone yesterday morning.  When he was talking about the Bearcats this year, he said, “Our Goal is to Excel on Monday, (The Bearcat JV squad is 2-2 and their two losses has been by two points each) our goal this year is increasing or Football IQ.  We are in great game shape. If you look at our game film, the other team is huffing and puffing on the sidelines.”

Coach Hargrove said we just need to come out and play with confidence on Friday night like on a Monday and play with a good flow of the game. I mentioned that sophomore QB Bryce Pratt has been throwing in triple digits every game in the box score.  He said he threw for over 200 yds. in the loss to Edwards County.  He said the JV team which is basically the same at the skill positions that play on Friday night, have a high powered offense.

I watched a lot of Bearcat football last year.  The only game they did not have a game running clock was in Week 9 against Vienna-Goreville.  They have not had a game this year that has not been.  Coach Hargrove knows where this team is.  He has a good staff in Josh McCurren, Scotty Clark, and I even saw in a picture, the veteran of 50+ years of coaching Buddy Velasco is on the sidelines again.

Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn Coach John Shadowens had this to say about coach Hargrove, “We respect Coach Hargrove and his program. His is loyal, enthusiastic, and sticks up for his guys. I like that.”

Devil fans are treated this year to a very special group.  I can see them running the table up to week nine.  With FB Peyton Rock, and with the Gunter brothers Lucas, and Eli, at running back, and their cousin Joshua as a receiver, and a QB in Clayton Smith who took snaps as a freshman, this is an explosive offense big time.  I see them running the table in the BDC until a week nine showdown with Fairfield at the Train Yard.

There is a 99% chance that S-V-W-W will come out with the victory tonight.  If the Bearcats come out with a good showing tonight, it will be a big confidence booster for this team.  I have them circled to pick up the win when they play Hamilton County.

You hear the term culture change a lot in sports.  The kids are usually playing hard, they just need to pick up a win.

I have been living in West Frankfort  for two years now.  Sometimes a win is good for the program’s future.  Last year when they picked up a win against perennial powerhouse Harrisburg, it changed the culture of the whole program.  Yes a lot of kids graduated, but a young football team at the skill positions is 3-1 and went on the road and picked up a nice road win at Harrisburg last Friday night.  The Redbrids were winless in 2015, and 1-8 in 2014.

Your goals are different when a program is rebuilding.  In Coach Shadowens’ second tour of duty with the Devils, is has been slow progression, 4-5 then 5-4 last year.  Yes it was ugly at the pit in Mt. Carmel in the playoff’s last year, but the most important part, they were playing on week 10.

That loss at Mt. Carmel helped them this year.  Around 9:00 pm tonight, the Devils will be 5-0.  In the worse case scenario, I see them ending up 7-2, and going deep in the class 3A playoffs.

The Bearcats day will come, possibly next year or even two years down the road.  They will most likely be 2A and will make some noise i

 

 

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