Tigers ready for rematch against Bobcats

Friday, November 11, 2016
MCHS Standout Cain McWilliams (2), a semifinalist for the Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Lineman of the Year Award, is all smiles after recovering a fumble for a touchdown last week versus East Hamilton. This week, McWilliams and the Tigers take on a familiar foe when they host Giles County at Preston Hopkins Field in Lewisburg in a Class 4A second round playoff game. Tribune photo by Matt Mizner

Giles County (8-3) upset region 3-4A number two seed Hixson last Friday night to gain a chance at redemption against an old familiar foe when the Bobcats travel to Lewisburg tonight, looking to avenge its biggest loss of the season, a 45-10 let down at Marshall County on September 16.

The Bobcats come to Lewisburg just eight points away from a one loss season, having dropped close games to 5A Shelbyville Central (five points) and 4-4A runner-up Page (three points) and have won five of six after the lopsided loss to the Tigers by averaging 45 points per contest.

Tough foe

"I expect a hardnosed, nip and tuck football game because their quarterback is so good and that allows them to score points," MCHS coach Thomas Osteen, who is 3-0 during the regular season against his former school said. "They gotten better defensively since early in the year."

The Bobcat offense was in overdrive against the number two-seeded Wildcats as standout quarterback John Bacchus amassed 255 yards and four touchdowns on 13-of-20 passes.

The Bobcat offense accounted for 448 yards on 52 plays.

Wide receiver K.J. Zigler caught three touchdown passes for 91 yards and Tanner Holley snagged six catches for 81 yards.

Giles County were just as lethal on the ground as running back R'Kell Reed led the attack with 196 yards and finished with 268 yards of total offense which bested the entire Hixson offense.

Passing attack

"Giles County can throw it all over the field, something East Hamilton couldn't do," Osteen added. "They can score from anywhere on the field, so anytime you play a team like that it scares you to death."

The Tigers also have some payback to look forward to as Giles County upset Marshall County by three points in the first round of the 2014 playoffs, just a week after the Tigers beat the Bobcats by 17 points to close out the regular season.

"We have to always be focused," Jay Howard, who led the Tigers in receptions in the opening round, said. "My sophomore year we played them twice, back-to-back and we lost the first round of the playoffs. We have to go to the drawing board and do what we have to do to not let that happen again."

Since that playoff loss to the Bobcats in 2014, the Tigers have put forth a 22-3 overall record with only a seven point setback to Stratford in 2016 which is the only blemish on the blue and white's record.

Wakeup call

Since the loss to the Spartans at midseason the Tigers underwent a wake up of sorts, averaging 56 points per game, while giving up just 5.6.

The Tigers feature a triple threat offense with Tre Crutcher (1,097), Jay Howard (1,108), and Kamron Liggett (1,310) all turning in over at least 1,000 all-purpose yards on the season to go along with quarterback Bryce Wallace's 2,344 yards and 29 touchdowns to just four interceptions on the year.

The defense is led by Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Lineman of the Year semifinalist Cain McWilliams, who leads the team with 72 tackles, 10 sacks, and nine tackles for a loss.

Hunter Cummings is next with 68 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss and a sack while the secondary is shored up by senior Donathan Tears with 41 tackles and a team leading four interceptions.

Hard task

"The second round of the playoffs you're going to be playing someone really good and it's tough to beat a team twice, as our kids know," Osteen said. "So that will be the toughest part. They know us so well and that will make the game even harder. We're not going to be able to fool them so we're just going to have to outplay them."

"We've just got to go back to what happened my sophomore year," Tears added. "When we beat Giles during the regular season and then lost to them in the first round of the playoffs."

"We've just got to step up and do what we did last week and the same week we played against them," Tears continued. "Just preparation dedication and do what we do best."