WARNER ROBINS -- Basketball season waits in the wings right now at Houston County, but there is the matter of rebounding for the Bears in football.
They have to get over watching a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter become a 34-33 loss to fifth-ranked Northside last week in the GHSA Region 2-AAAAA championship in front of a overflow crowd at McConnell-Talbert Stadium.
Instead of breaking the lifetime losing streak against the Eagles and taking home the region, city and county championship for the first time ever, well, they didn’t. Now they enter the playoffs with the region’s second seed and with -- at least to outsiders -- odds of that loss lingering.
But bead coach Von Lassiter has talked plenty all season about the intelligence of his players and their ability to remain even-keeled, whether it was losing to Lakeside-Evans or hammering Warner Robins and Jones County.
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That ability will be tested Thursday when the Bears welcome LaGrange to McConnell-Talbert Stadium in the opening round of the GHSA Class AAAAA playoffs in what is Houston’s County first home playoff game in program history.
“Our kids are resilient,” Lassiter said. “They hate losing, but they know what’s expected of out them when Monday comes around, win or lose.”
Lassiter said he expected the Bears to be heartbroken during the weekend and ready to move on when the week began.
“They got off the mat pretty good,” he said. “They started working immediately on Monday. It’s been a good couple days.”
One advantage the Bears have this week is facing a run-oriented team for the second straight week. Houston County’s defense had a respectable evening against Northside workhorse Willie Jordan, who had 109 yards in the win, below his average.
“They like to run the football,” Lassiter said of the Grangers. “They get in multiple formations and run it at you.”
That’s especially true with Mon Denson, a 6-foot, 210-pound running back who had 260 yards against Northside-Columbus, Northside’s first-round opponent, to push him past 1,000 yards for the season.
“He’s committed to South Carolina,” said Lassiter, noting Denson is similar to Jordan in many ways. “You’re a back in the SEC, you’re pretty good.”
Houston County’s defense got a boost last week with the return of linebacker Zach Taisler, who missed four games with a knee injury but was in on about a dozen tackles in his first game back.
“He just a tough kid, man,” Lassiter said. “He’s one of the toughest kids I’ve ever coached. He runs around and makes plays all over the place.”
Record: 8-2; second place in Region 2-AAAAA.
Opponent: LaGrange, 5-5; third place in Region 1-AAAAA.
Series record: First meeting.
Next up: Sequoyah or Lanier.
Players to watch for Houston County: WR/DB Darion Anderson, Jr.; OL Steven Robinet, Sr.; LB Zach Taisler, Sr.; RB Kenny Gant, Sr.; WR Jaylen Searcy, Jr.