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Last chance: Yellow Jackets and Bobcats fight to stay alive

There’s a hard truth at the heart of combat, going all the way back to when Cain killed Abel — somebody goes on, and somebody goes down.

It was true then, and it will be true Friday night in Bogue Chitto, when the Bobcats football team hosts the Enterprise Yellow Jackets for the last regular season game of the year and both teams’ final shot at getting to the playoffs.

“There’s a lot of connections between the two schools that make it a little more than just another football game, and when you throw the playoff spot on top of that, it makes it even more important,” said Jackets coach Brooks Burns.

The young Yellow Jackets (1-8, 0-3) will limp into Bogue Chitto to fight the Bobcats (4-5, 0-3) for the last of four playoff spots in Region 7-2A. 

Amite County is undefeated in regional play, trailed by Loyd Star at 2-1 and West Lincoln at 1-1. Loyd Star and West Lincoln are both in — they’ll play for position Friday night.

With Enterprise and Bogue Chitto winless in regional play, one team will pick up the only win necessary to advance while the other turns in their pads Monday afternoon and calls it a day.

“The kids understand what’s at stake, and they’re excited about it,” Burns said. “They’ve come into practice this week with focus. They know the situation.”

Burns said the focus in practice this week for his Jackets will be power, their biggest advantage over the quicker, speedy Bobcats. While Bogue Chitto can attack with shifty playmakers, the size advantage on the lines of scrimmage belongs to Enterprise, and Burns wants his cattle-pushers to get out front and lead the way for a simple, heavy rushing attack.

“Bogue Chitto’s quickness can offset a lot of things, so our linesmen will have to know where they’re going and get there in a hurry,” he said. “We want to pound the ball hard for four quarters and keep it close, and then maybe our size and strength will take over late.”

The size and strength across the Enterprise offensive line is formidable, averaging 244 pounds per player. The line consists of junior Noah Diamond (320 pounds), sophomore Colby Beard (245 pounds), freshman Chase White (170 pounds), junior Josh Milholen (265 pounds) and senior Grayson Bennett (220 pounds).

The Jackets also use a traditional fullback – senior Danny Thomas, a 6-footer listed at 220 pounds who can pave the way for a running back or step on defenders himself. He’s averaging almost 5 yards per carry on his limited opportunities and has amassed 368 yards and a score.

The Bobcats don’t spend as much time in the lunchroom as the big guys at Enterprise, but they’ve got speed. And if they get to the point of attack first, the Yellow Jackets’ size will be neutralized.

“If they lock up on us, they have the weight advantage to push us back, so we’ll try to give them some different looks and use our speed and quickness to beat the blocks before they can get there,” said Bogue Chitto head coach Gareth Sartin.

The Bobcats have plenty of speed on defense. Junior Jermaine Black is listed at 165 pounds and makes for an arrowhead of a linebacker, and senior defensive end Eli Wallace, at 170 pounds, has speed to spare on the edge.

If Sartin has to bring his secondary up in the box to pile on the Yellow Jackets, he’s got a huge speed advantage there, too. Junior Brandon Lewis, at 152 pounds, has speed at safety, and 150-pound junior Lafredrick Dillon has big-time speed from the corner position.

Both teams are young, and both have had rough roads to the last game of the regular season. Bogue Chitto has more experience winning games in 2017, but both coaches agree that records are out the window in a fight to the death for the last playoff spot.

“Any time you play the other county schools, it’s a big game. Bragging rights are on the line,” Sartin said. “If you win, you get to practice next week. If you lose, it’s over.”

No matter which team goes on, the reward for surviving into the playoffs will be an invitation to the toughest game of the year. The 9-1 Taylorsville Tartars, undefeated in regional play, will welcome either Bobcats or Yellow Jackets in Round One.

The Bobcats will face the Yellow Jackets at home in Bogue Chitto Friday at 7 p.m.