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It all starts in the Alley

Bulloch Academy opens 2010 campaign today

It all starts in the Alley

It all starts in the Alley

Bulloch Academy quarterback Brandon W...

    Football season is finally here, and things will get started as two old rivals kickoff the brand new season.
    Tonight marks the 32nd annual meeting between Bulloch Academy and David Emanuel Academy as the Eagles of DEA travel to Gator Alley for a 7:30 p.m. start of “The First Showdown in Town”.
    Lately, the Gators have dominated the annual showdown. Bulloch Academy has won the last six meetings — almost all in blowout fashion — including a 51-8 runaway victory last season.
    Even with the lopsided scores, the game has maintained its intensity and serves as the singular game to get the area started in its annual football frenzy.
    “Everyone around here love high school football and they’re chomping at the bit to come out here and see the beginning of a new season,” said BA coach Clint Morgan. “This is the 13th year that we’ve opened up on a Thursday night to be the first game of the season. It’s always gotten a great turnout and we’re looking forward to another big crowd tonight.”
    Along with a fresh flock of young Eagles, DEA will also be breaking in a new head coach. Jimmy Barnett takes the reins this season in an attempt to turn around a program that managed just one win last year after a .500 record and a state playoff appearance in 2008.
    With the change in coaching staff and no game film to study, Bulloch is unsure of exactly what the Eagles will bring to the table.
    “I don’t know much about what they plan to do, but we know that they’ll come prepared,” said Morgan. “Coach Barnett is a great football coach. I’m sure he’ll have his team ready to play smash-mouth football and use the size and strength that they have at DEA.”
    As for the Gators, the game plan will remain much the same as last year when BA made a run to the state quarterfinals.
    Always committed to a tough defense, the Gators are looking to find a new core of linebackers and linemen to fill in for a defensive unit that returns just four starters from 2009.
    Returning starters are sparse on offense as well, but the skill positions in Bulloch’s flexbone attack are highly skilled and experienced and figure to make an impact tonight, as well as throughout the rest of the season.
    Quarterback Brandon Walker will call the shots in his third year behind center while last season’s leading rusher Ellis Lane poses a big-play threat from his slotback position. New additions Lestonz Lewis and Morris Prince will also play a part in the Gators’ relentless ground attack.
    “Going into every game, we don’t always know what people will try to throw at us defensively,” said Morgan. “It really doesn’t affect the rules that we play by on offense. As long as we run our offense correctly, we can handle things.”
    A quick start is more important for the Gators is more important than it has been in past years.
    As the member of a five-team region in the past few seasons, Bulloch didn’t begin region play until late in the season and needed just a handful of region wins to qualify for the state playoffs. Now in the nine-team Region 2-IAAA, Bulloch dives into region play in Week 3 and will have to rack up wins to advance to the postseason.
    “We’ve been fortunate to have five preseason games since the region starts earlier,” said Morgan. “We’ve seen what we need to work on and what we need to fine tune. Starting off with a single-A and double-A opponent might not scare our new region rivals, but we’ve always been underdogs and we like it that way. We’ve always taken the field prepared to win and we look to continue to do so this season.”

    Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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