COLUMN: Much to like about the Bearcats

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By John Herndon

Random thoughts while figuring the Reds' magic number ...

There is a lot to like about the Anderson County football team and the Bearcats showed why Friday at Mercer County.

There is a long way to go in the season and a good Henry County team coming to town this week, so let's not get ahead of ourselves. The Wildcats might have the best quarterback the Bearcats will see this year and last year's game was closer than the 42-7 final would indicate.

But still, the Anderson team has shown it has the potential to be playing well into the post-season.

The first thing I like about this group is they seem to get along so well and have truly bought into the team concept. There are quite a few very good ball players on this team. Several have the potential to get part of their college tuition paid by a football team.

At the same time, there are no big-time recruits. Speed-burners seem to run past Anderson County and while the Bearcats have good size, there are no true behemoths in the interior line.

But as most coaches are fond of saying, the scales and tape cannot measure the size of the heart. Anderson has been blessed with a bit more under the sternum than most high school teams.

This team is also very intelligent in the classroom and on the football field. One case in point is quarterback Seth Carmichael. He's a 4.0 student and he's showing to be quite adept on the field, where the smartest  thing he has done is be himself.

Carmichael earned the almost impossible task of replacing Jacob Russell at quarterback. All Russell did was rewrite the school passing records and draw the attention of major colleges. Carmichael made the decision that he was not Russell and the best way to help the team was not try to be.

That decision has done is made Carmichael one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the state, according to stats, at least. He's confidently playing within himself and encourages teammates to step forward with the big play. Those are traits that you can win big with.

Then you have a running back like Ethan Kelly. He's quick but not overly fast. And goodness, he's far from big. He just glides along, letting the blockers do their thing and then hit the sliver of daylight.

You have to like the way the defense played at Mercer. The line dominated. The kicking game is solid.

No, this team is not perfect. Far from it. There are occasional lapses and when a team is as aggressive defensively as Coach Mark Peach desires, there are times you will get burned. But the rewards far outweigh the risks, making them worth taking.

All seven games left in the regular season are winnable. Only two are games Anderson will be heavily favored. It's far too early to predict a record. But it's not too early to say this team could go a long way in November.

Speaking of teams to like, how about the Anderson County boys' and girls' soccer teams?

The girls were expected to be very strong and they have not disappointed against a murderous schedule that has included some of the state's best teams. They can score on anyone. With the weapons Anderson has, the Lady Bearcats are a threat against anyone and even though the region is loaded, it is not inconceivable to think the Lady Bearcats could get their first regional title.

The boys' team has exceeded the expectations and were 9-3 through the weekend games. The times I have seen the Bearcats, they have been tough, physical and supremely confident. That is what comes from experience. They have never won a district title but so far, the Bearcats are letting it be known they plan on changing that this season.

Don't count them out.

E-mail John Herndon at jpherndon@theandersonnews.com.