Beulah faces Randolph County with an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth
Published 11:30 am Wednesday, October 18, 2023
The Beulah Bobcats have not experienced the playoffs since 2018. That all could change this Friday.
Beulah faces the Randolph County Tigers with a potential playoff berth on the line. To make the playoffs, the Bobcats have to either win this week or beat Weaver next week.
Last week going into the matchup with Childersburg, Beulah was on the brink of elimination. After a win over the Tigers, the Bobcats have new life and a new outlook on their season.
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“Everybody was fired up after the game,” Beulah coach Matt Johnson said. “We expected to win that game. We played a hard game, and I was proud of how they responded after dropping the last couple. When you’re having a tough time and you get a victory like that, it just shows the kids what they are capable of.”
Earlier in the season, Beulah had a top-10 defense in 2A. That defense allowed 60 points in the loss to Wellborn, and Johnson saw them take some steps back after that loss.
Against Childersburg, the defense returned to form thanks to a big showing from Bronson Dubose and Hunter Brown. Dubose finished with 16 tackles and one forced fumble against the Tigers. Brown finished with 10 tackles and a forced fumble. Freshman Harry Grant also stepped up and played a big role.
“That’s what we needed from them,” Johnson said. “We just challenged them. Our linebackers played better than they had the past few games. We got all 11 guys to the ball.”
The defense is going to be challenged again this week against Randolph County. The Tigers bring in an offense that has averaged 39 points per game this season. Randolph County suffered its first loss last week against Wellborn.
The Tigers rely heavily on the ground game. They will run in the I-formation, the Wishbone and Randolph County runs several different option plays.
“They’re going to be a power team,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to have that edge like we did against Childersburg. We’ve got to fly to the ball. We’ve got to be very physical upfront. The defensive line is going to be huge this game.”
Starting quarterback Demarion Foreman is still day-to-day with his injury. Wes Grant is likely going to be the starter at quarterback again this week. Grant was the third-string quarterback coming into the season, and he had been a major contributor at wideout. Beulah lost its second-string quarterback, Kason Kalla, to injury as well.
Johnson felt as though Grant managed the game well last week, and he believes that the offense could open up more for him as a passer.
“He’s a tough kid,” Johnson said. “He’s doing what we’re asking him to do. I’m proud of how he’s responded. He’s a baseball guy so throwing the ball shouldn’t be a problem with him.”
Grant is just a junior on the team, and he is not the most vocal. That has not stopped the rest of the team from following behind Grant. Grant has led by example, and the rest of the team has gravitated towards him.
“He goes out and leads with his actions,” Johnson said. “Everybody has confidence in him. When you’ve got that confidence, leadership kind of follows that.”
Randolph County has allowed 20 points per game on the defensive side of the ball. The Bobcats hope to continue running their offense as normal while also creating more opportunities through the air.
“We’re going to continue to do what we do,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to throw the ball a little bit more than usual. I think Wes will be able to do that. They’re going to be physical.”
The Tigers look to blitz their linebackers early and often, getting the ball out quickly will be important for Beulah’s offense.
A loss this week does not spell the end of the Bobcats’ playoff hopes. A win next week would still put the team in the playoffs, but Johnson and the team want to get it done and leave no unfinished business for next week.
“You always want to solidify that spot,” Johnson said.
“You tell them the truth, we’ve got to win one of the two. I think we can win both. You’ve got to be confident in that. At the same time, you don’t want to put too much pressure on them to where they think it’s going to ruin their season if they drop one. We’re on the path to the playoffs, we just can’t slip off of it.”
A win this week or next week secures Johnson his first playoff berth as a head coach. The chance to play in the playoffs is important to Johnson, the rest of the coaches and the entire Beulah community.
“It would be huge,” Johnson said.
“These last couple of years have been tough. Just fighting battles that a lot of people don’t know we fought. It’d be just a testament to how hard these kids have worked and how hard the coaches have worked. It’d be great to wake up Saturday morning and to realize that those goals that you’ve set and put in place at the beginning of the year have been realized, but we still have to work for them. It’s not over yet. We still haven’t met our standard yet, but it would be huge for this community, these fans and everybody that supports us.”