Region championships have been few and far between for Brookland-Cayce. So when the Bearcats shut out Airport 21-0 Friday night to claim the Region 5-4A title, the celebration included region championship T-shirts that were printed and ready to go.
The Bearcats held the Eagles to 110 yards of total offense in winning just the third region title in recent memory. Brookland-Cayce will host an at-large opponent in the Lower State playoffs next Friday and be home again the following week with a win.
Airport will also host a first-round game next Friday. They will play the No. 3 seed from Region 7-4A. Official brackets will be released Saturday morning.
“It’s hard to put into words. I know the kids are excited,” Brookland-Cayce coach Rusty Charpia said. “I think it’s only our third region championship since integration. I know Brad Coleman got one and we got one a couple of years ago. The score doesn’t reflect on how close the game was. It’s just special for the kids to have an opportunity to win a region championship and maybe move along in the playoffs and get some home games. I think Airport is going to win some games too.”
Brookland-Cayce (7-3, 5-0) has won six in a row and swept the season series against rival Airport (7-3, 4-1). This one was totally different from the 35-32 shootout the teams played two months ago. The Bearcats defense only allowed the Eagles into their territory four times with the deepest drive going to the 27.
Charpia said the performance of his defense has been the difference from the 1-3 start on the season. They’ve allowed seven points in the last three games and have given up an average of 11.3 points per game during the winning streak.
“We’ve gotten so much better on defense,” Charpia said. “That’s probably where we’ve made the biggest improvement. We had an opportunity during the off week to go back and look at what we were doing and maybe move some people around. The biggest thing is, we got more physical in practice and the kids bought into it. We started simplifying things so people could play hard. It’s starting to pay off.”
That defense set up the first touchdown. Dez Moore intercepted an errant pass to give B-C possession at the Airport 29-yard line. Five plays later, quarterback Peyton Whitten powered in from a yard out with 8:44 remaining in the first half.
It stayed that way into the third quarter when another Airport mishap led to a score. The Eagles faked a punt on a fourth-and-21 from their own 35 and came up two yards short. Three plays later, Deonte Baker raced 46 yards for the score with 4:25 remaining in the third quarter.
The final score came after a 24-yard drive when Airport’s punter had to go to a knee to field a snap. Whitten scored again from a yard out five plays later.
Will Way led the Brookland-Cayce attack with 102 yards rushing. Baker added 87 yards as the Bearcats had 254 yards of total offense
“They’re a lot more physical,” Airport coach Kirk Burnette said. “Scheme-wise, they haven’t changed a bit. They’re quicker to the ball than they were. They’re playing a lot better on both sides of the ball. I thought we played pretty good on defense. We had a few mishaps with the interception and a knee touches the ground but as far as offensively we couldn’t get anything going.”
BC 0 7 7 7—21
AIR 0 0 0 0—0
HOW THEY SCORED
BC – Peyton Whitten 1 run (Eric Young kick) 8:44
BC – Deonte Baker 46 run (Young kick) 4:25
BC – Whitten 1 run (Young kick) 10:42
Rushing: BC: Will Way 18-102, Deonte Baker 7-87, Peyton Whitten 5-13, Devonte Strader 2-4, Latrell Jamison 1-40. Air: Nanders Lawrence 7-59, Bruce Staley 15-26, Markco Gilmore 7-8, Haden Rimer 2-5.
Passing: BC: Whitten 2-4-0 8 yards. Air: Gilmore 7-14-1 12 yards.
Receiving: BC: Way 1-1, Latrell Jamison 1-7. Air: Sa’Quan Washington 2-7, Lawrence 3-1, Staley 2-4.