on November 1, 2007 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

It’s been an easier week as Bobcats prepare for seventh-ranked Chester

SENECA — Coaching football at Seneca High School has been a little bit easier this week for head coach Brian Smith.

“It’s amazing what a win can do for the mindset of your team,” Smith said.

This time last week, the Bobcats (4-6) were in the midst of a four-game losing streak and were looking at the possibility of being the odd team out of the Class AAA State Playoffs if they couldn’t get off mat and beat Travelers Rest. But Seneca did just that, rolling over Travelers Rest 41-0 to clinch Western AAA’s fifth seed in Friday night’s state playoffs.

The mood in the Seneca locker room is now one filled with joy and confidence as the Bobcats hit the road Friday to Region III-AAA Champion Chester High School. The game is set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

“We look at this game and we think we have a good chance to win,” quarterback Joel Smith said. “Last week was the first time in a while that we played a complete game. The offense played well and the defense was excellent.

“We just have to do that again this week, and I think we will.”

The Bobcats will definitely have to do all of that and maybe some more to beat Chester’s best team – in terms of regular season wins – since 1975. The Cyclones (8-2) won more games than any team at the school in 32 years, plus their region title was the their first in 10 years.

“They’re a great football team,” Coach Smith said. “We have played some very talented ballclubs this year and they are as talented as any that we have played.”

And that talent starts with quarterback Gene McCaskill who leads the team in rushing and passing. With the region title on the line against Fairfield-Central, he ran for 133 of the 355 Cyclone rushing yards and completed 8-of-8 passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns.

His last touchdown pass came in the final moments of the game with the Cyclones trailing 26-24. With two Griffins pulling him to the ground on a fourth-and-short play, McCaskill had enough poise to fire a seven-yard pass to a wide receiver Jeremy Hughes in the end zone.

“He’s a pretty talented player,” Joel Smith said of McCaskill. “I know he has already verbally committed to play for (Kentucky) so I’m excited about playing against him.”

But the Cyclones’ talent doesn’t end with McCaskill. Defensive back Terrell Springs has committed to UAB, while quarterback/athlete Charles Whitlock is being recruited by several major programs. Whitlock also plays some at wide receiver and defensive back as well as some time he has spent at quarterback.

Whitlock is a Shrine Bowl selection, while McCaskill is a North-South All-Star selection.

“They pretty much do everything,” Coach Smith said.

Defensively, Chester is led by Springs and linebackers Mike Walker and Ariane McCree. Bobby Jackson leads the team up front as a defensive tackle.

But as good as Chester is, Seneca says it welcomes the opportunity as opposed to watching the games from the stands.

“It’s better than sitting at home,” Coach Smith said. “We get the opportunity to move a lot of our young kids up. It gives them a chance to get batter and experience what it’s like to be on the varsity squad.”

The Bobcats also have an added sense of urgency to this game. There is a slight chance linebacker/offensive tackle Connor Hawkins could return if Seneca should advance through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Hawkins was thought to be lost for the year after breaking his leg against Daniel on Oct. 5.

“We are playing for Connor,” Joel Smith said. “There is a chance we can get him back so we are playing for him. When you get to this point, you’re playing week-to-week and if we can keep on winning then we will have a chance to get him back on the field and that’s what we want to do.”

And that’s just another reason why it’s been a little easier to coach football at Seneca High School this week.