Local teams suffer through horror movie sequels

Published 5:28 pm Saturday, November 15, 2008

If there’s one thing we know about scary movies, we know that the sequel is never as good as the original.

Such was the case for the Billingsley and Isabella football teams on Friday night as they relived nightmares from earlier in the season. Not only did the Bears and Mustangs get knocked out of the state playoffs by squads they had already lost to earlier in the season, the pair of games Friday was eerily similar to the original versions.

Billingsley lost another heartbreaker to Linden, the unbeaten and No. 3-ranked team in the state’s 1A classification. The first time, it was Linden 27, Billingsley 26, and the culprit was missed opportunities on point-after tries and two-point conversion attempts.

The Bears thought they had outplayed their region foes in that one, and had to fight the urge to look ahead to the possibility of a rematch in the second round of the playoffs. Coach Kevin LeSueur’s team wanted another shot, and the Bears got it.

And, for the unthinkably cruel second time in one season, Billingsley played well enough to topple a giant. The win in the second of the meetings would have opened the door for what we can only imagine. There’s no reason to think the local team couldn’t have beaten anyone in the state and returned a state title to the school for the first time since 1997.

But, again, points after touchdowns decided the games as the Bears could only convert on one of five opportunities.

The Billingsley seniors that have changed the attitude around the school deserved much more than to have their playoff hopes die the way they did on Friday, but they can be proud to know they won the school’s first playoff game since that ’97 season.

That win, over a top-5 team in Wadley that had beaten the Bears the past two seasons, will serve as a foundation for LeSueur and the Billingsley underclassmen to build on.

As much as Billingsley’s game would conjure up images of a horror movie sequel, Isabella can empathize. The Mustangs probably feel as bad today because they, for the second time, couldn’t figure out how to get themselves even into a position to win late in the game.

Isabella lost in Reform, home of Pickens County High, by a 26-0 score on Friday. The Tornadoes were up, 20-0, at halftime, so the visitors were never really in the game. The final tally the first time was 33-7. That’s right, two losses by 26 points.

The difference this time was that the Mustangs really thought they were prepared to give Pickens a run. There’s no shame in a loss to the state’s No. 4 team in Class 2A, but the manner of the loss is surely not what Isabella wanted.

But, like Billingsley, Isabella has much to boast about. Only two years removed from a second winless season in a row, the Mustangs were one of only two local teams to make the second round of the state playoffs.

Taken only in the context of results in their first meetings against opponents from Friday night, Billingsley and Isabella had their seasons end in frightening fashion. But when we look back on what these teams accomplished, we’ll see two feel-good stories.