By Patrick Newell
Sun Sports Editor
It remains to be seen if Bainbridge-Guilford’s fast start and stingy defensive efforts will hold up through its rigorous division schedule. Tonight the Bobcats make their foray into division play at Hancock, and they stand alone defensively in Section IV as the only club to not relinquish a point.
In weeks one and two, B-G blanked Harpursville and Unadilla Valley-Edmeston giving up just 115 yards per game. It’s a far cry and a 180-degree turn from last season when the Bobcats were among Section IV’s most porous defensive units allowing nearly 35 points per game and a county-worst 350 yards a contest.
“We have stressed getting back to the physical football that B-G has always been known for,” said B-G first-year head coach Tim Mattingly, who credits defensive coaches Jim Mosher and Al Arotsky for putting players in the right position to make plays. “We know in the division that we play in – with Delhi, Walton, and Oxford – we have got to stop the run.”
Giving up 267 yards a game on the ground a year ago simply would not cut this season, and with the leadership of senior linebacker Willie McGinnis, the Bobcats have become run stuffers extraordinaire. “We’ve changed the defense a little and we’ve put more people up at the line of scrimmage,” Mattingly said. “Another thing we’ve seen is a marked improvement in the enthusiasm and leadership. When you have kids like Willie and other first-year kids coming out and going 100 miles per hour, the kids just feed off of that. Willie is definitely the leader of our defense, and Jim (Mosher) moves him all over and cuts him loose.”
Knowing Hancock has yet to win a game and it is a division opener for the Bobcats, Mattingly and his staff have worked his kids even harder than usual. “We’re looking at this as a ‘trap’ game,” Mattingly said. “This is the biggest game we’ve had so far, and with Hancock being 0-2, we fully expect them to pull out all the stops. They’re a desperate team right now, and we expect to see anything and everything from them.”