Bears look to repeat strong season — West Lincoln went 3-1 in district with lone loss to district champ Amite County
With football season two months away, we’ll take a look at area schools’ 2017 season and what they return for the upcoming season.
2017 at a glance
The Bears finished second in their division in 2017, going 3-1 within district play and garnering the No. 2 seed from the district.
West Lincoln’s season came to an end in the first round of the MHSAA 2A playoffs at the hands of Bay Springs, as the Bulldogs beat the Bears 54-20.
The Bears earned the second overall seed by defeating rival Loyd Star in a closely contested 28-22 game that the Bears pulled out late.
West Lincoln was successful on the road last season, going 4-0 away from home with wins over Salem, Puckett, Enterprise and Bogue Chitto.
What they lost
West Lincoln lost some key contributors off the 2017 team and will have to replace the production they lost if they’re to return to the same success they saw last season.
Chase Owen was the do-it-all athlete for West Lincoln, as he did everything from playing quarterback to punting.
Owen went 22-of-45 through the air for 415 yards and six touchdowns. On the ground, Owen rushed for 608 yards on 102 rushing attempts. The senior also had 34 receptions for 628 yards and five touchdowns.
On the defensive side of things, Owen was second on the team in tackles, tallying 30 stops on the year. He also recorded three interceptions on the year.
Owen also split time at punter for the Bears, and he was the leading scorer for West Lincoln, scoring 96 points on the year.
Gabe Nations had a big impact for the Bears during his last season, as the senior rushed for 129 yards on 31 attempts. He also had 19 receptions for 294 yards and five touchdowns.
Nations led the team on the defensive side of the ball in sacks with 2.5 in 2017.
Le’Darrius Jones had 23 receptions for 396 yards and seven touchdowns for the Bears, and on the defensive side of the ball he recorded 50 tackles and two interceptions.
What they return
The Bears will return one of their leading ball carriers next season, as Michael Brothern will be back for his junior year.
“He’s the guy that we’re going to get the ball to in big situations,” West Lincoln football coach B.J. Smithhart said. “He had a great year for us last year.”
For 2017, Brothern had 100 carries for 747 yards, and he led the team in all purpose yards with 747. On the defensive side of the ball, Brothern recorded 20 tackles and picked off five passes for West Lincoln. He had 375 yards on kickoff returns last season.
“As a eighth- and ninth-grader he got beat up on, but he came on really strong, and he’s just a ball player,” Smithhart said. “He’s going to be the guy that we go to when it’s crunch time. He’s a bulldog.”
Cam Buckles will return for his senior season for the Bears after leading West Lincoln with 2.5 sacks last season.
West Lincoln will start its season on Aug. 17 as they travel to Mount Olive.