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Close won’t satisfy Bears this time

For about 45 minutes after last week’s 18-10 win over Wadley, the Billingsley Bears celebrated.

The team was understandably excited; it had just won the school’s first playoff game since a state championship run in 1997, not to mention a road game against a top-5 team. But the festiveness ended even before the night did because the Bears knew more opportunities for accomplishment awaited.

“If I thought we were going to be one round and done, I would have let them whoop it up,” Billingsley coach Kevin LeSueur said.

Next up, a rematch at 7 tonight with unbeaten and No. 4-ranked Linden. The Patriots snuck by the Bears, 27-26, in Week 5 partly because of two missed Billingsley extra points.

For a program that hadn’t been anywhere near the top in so long, Round 1 against Linden was a realization of where the entrance to success was. This time around, the Bears (9-2, 6-2 Class 1A Region 3) hope to kick the door down.

“That was the first time I’d seen the entire team play well,” LeSueur said. “I think we got better because we lost. Coming out of that game the way we did might have been a blessing in disguise.”

LeSueur said he told his team last week that the Wadley game would be decided by which team could consistently churn out first downs. A first-half drive that lasted almost nine minutes put Billingsley up for good, and the Bears held the ball for about 18 minutes in the first half.

This week, the coach has told his players that the game will be decided by big plays. With running backs Jamar Hopson and Tim Simon and receivers Raphael Brooks and Jay Tyus, Billingsley is well stocked with players capable of turning in long gains.

“I’m looking forward to us going back out there Friday night with a chance to prove something about ourselves,” LeSueur said.