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Gators battle distraction during homecoming week

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Posted: October 19, 2006 3:58 p.m.
Updated: October 27, 2006 5:00 a.m.
All week long, Bulloch Academy’s football players have dressed in pajamas, in camouflage, in tacky attire and as their favorite movie/television actors. Thursday night, some were even dressed as cheerleaders during the annual PowderPuff game. Yes, they’ve had a fun-filled week during Homecoming 2006.
    But the question is, are they ready to play football?
    “Homecoming is a fun time for students, players, fans, alumni and the members of the homecoming court,” said BA head coach Clint Morgan. “Everyone except coaches. It’s hard for a coach to prepare for a game and have his players mentally focused when there are so many distractions. I’m not a Scrooge but the most important thing on my mind is winning a football game.”
    The Gators (3-4) face a high-powered Tiftarea squad which is very similar to Bulloch Academy’s.
    “This is not your normal or usual homecoming pushover,” said Morgan. “Tiftarea is very well balanced, is extremely effective running the football and can be effective throwing the football as well. We are similar all the way across the board.”
    The two main offensive threats in the Panthers’ version of the Wing-T offense are senior fullback Josh Beaty (5-8, 210-pounds) and junior wingback Thomas Ganas (6-2, 190). No statistics were available on the GISA statistics website (www.gisastats.com).
    “The two of them have carried the ball an equal number of times,” said Morgan. “Ganas is the finesse runner while Beaty is the bruiser. We have to stop Ganas from getting on the outside but also find a way to stop Beaty from running between the tackles. The quarterback (senior Matthew Souter) throws the ball well and can also run well with it.”
    The Gator defense is led by linebacker James Conner, who has 79 total tackles (48 individual and 31 assists). Defensive tackle Ben Newton is second on the squad (34, 17) followed by cornerback Ethan Lovett (31, 15). Defensive end Drew Cheshire is fourth (21, 23) and linebacker Corey Owens (14, 30) rounds out the Top 5.
    “We can’t give up the big plays,” said Morgan. “Tiftarea has scored numerous times this season on both big pass plays and big running plays.”
    The Gator offense has been doing a good job moving the ball behind the smallish but quick offensive line. Bulloch has accumulated a little over 2,000 yards in total offense through seven games but 18 turnovers (15 lost fumbles and three interceptions) have ended many potential scoring drives.
    “The number one key to victory for us has got to be to finish off an offensive drive,” said Morgan. “Another focal point this week has got to be to protect the ball. Limiting turnovers is always one of our keys to victory.”
    Bulloch tailback Trevor Darden leads the team in rushing with 788 yards and five touchdowns while quarterback Jordan Walker has 509 yards and three scores. Through the air, Walker is 28-of-55 for 435 yards and six TDs. Leading receivers are Lovett (11-for-190 yards and five touchdowns) and Thomas Brunson (8-for-100 yards).
    “It could be a very high-scoring game,” hinted Morgan.
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