Last year’s game was canceled because of tropical storm Faye. This year’s game is expected to draw a huge crowd to West Thomas Stadium for the nonregion contest. “There will be a lot of attention on this one because no one else in the area is playing. It should take on a playoff atmosphere and be very exciting,” said CHS Athletic Director Carlton Gainous.
The Syrupmakers are coming off winning the 2008 AAA state championship. They return only two starters from that team, and the Bainbridge Bearcats are under the second year leadership of former Thomas County coach Ed Pilcher, who will make his first visit to the Syrupbowl as the Bearcat head coach.
The Syrupmakers scrimmaged Mitchell County last week and, after a slow start, put the Eagles away 41-14. Meanwhile, the Bearcat’s scrimmage was halted at halftime with Dougherty because of lightning. The Bearcats were leading 10-6.
“The Bearcats have a very good team. They are well coached and will come here in Saturday night ready to play,” said Cairo coach Tom Fallaw. “Hopefully, we learned some things from our scrimmage and will continue to get better every week. Early on, we’ll need to make big improvements each week, but the main thing is to play hard. We’ll fix the mistakes,” said Fallaw.
The ‘Cats return all around athlete James Hudson who will play both quarterback and defense, and running back Thomas Smiley, who rushed for over 500 yards last year. “Bainbridge is solid all over, they have an offense that has had a year to learn coach Pilcher’s offense and a tough defense. Their kicking game returns, as well. We have to play assignment football, because one mistake will cost you,” said Fallaw.
The Syrupmakers showed some improvements in the second half of Thursday’s scrimmage game, but will face a stiff test Saturday night. Bringing back only one starter on offense and one on defense means several players are going to have to grow up and improve quickly.
Kickoff for Saturday night’s game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at West Thomas Stadium.