West Lincoln’s game is golden

Published 12:14 am Saturday, September 23, 2017

Nine-year-old Anna Jo Sasser spotted a rainbow as she flew over the West Lincoln football field in a Lifeflight helicopter Friday night.

And even though the young fan’s Bears lost 42-6 to the Stringer Red Devils, the game was golden.

It was the Bears’ first-ever Gold Game, which they played to celebrate September as National Childhood Cancer Month.

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Sasser arrived on the field by way of Lifeflight to deliver the game ball. The second-grader was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma, five years ago.

She had surgery at Batson Children’s Hospital followed by 18 months of chemotherapy. She underwent proton radiation last year at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The tumor has left her blind in her right eye, but it hasn’t weakened her spirit. She’s tenacious and a fighter, just like her favorite team.

The Bears are now 2-4 with three big losses in a row, but they don’t give up, much like their tiny cheerleader.

Though Stringer dominated the game in all four quarters, West Lincoln fought hard.

“The effort for the most part was there,” said head coach BJ Smithhart. “We’ve just got to do a little bit better executing.”

Stringer ran the field for touchdowns several times, nailing their PATs as well. It was 7-0, then 14-0 as they intercepted West Lincoln passes and rushed to their own end zone.

With the score at 20-0, the Red Devils recovered a fumble by West Lincoln then Stringer’s Cayleb Dyess made a 54-yard pass to Reece Barber for a touchdown, bringing it to 28-0 with a PAT.

West Lincoln turned over possession on downs. The Dyess-Reece combo hit again, this time with a 80-yard pass completed for a touchdown followed by a PAT to make it 34-0.

Stringer’s Anthony Thomas rushed 95 yards for a touchdown. The PAT was good and it was 42-0 going into the half.

The Bears held the Red Devils in the third.

Sophomore Michael Brothern put West Lincoln on the board with a rushing touchdown, but they failed at the two-point conversion.

Neither team scored again, leaving it 42-6 at the final.

“They came back and played hard,” Smithhart said of his team.

The Bears are home again Friday as they take on the Amite County Trojans of Liberty. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. It’s the Bears’ homecoming and the first district game.