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BA travles to biggest, faster Tiftarea

    Around 10 tonight, Bulloch Academy head coach Clint Morgan will know how good his 6-1 Gator football team really is.
    “We have four straight strong Class AA opponents,” said Morgan as he and his squad travel to Chula, Ga. to take on Tiftarea Academy. “They (the Panthers) will be the first and will be a good test to see how we will matchup in Class AA. They’re definitely the best team we’ve seen since Pinewood (Bulloch’s only loss). We will have to play a full four quarters of football to beat them.”
    The 4-2 Panthers, according to Morgan, are an extremely good football team with the two losses coming at the hands of Class AAA opponents Mount de Sales and Deerfield-Windsor.
    “They are very fundamentally sound,” he said. “They do the little things right. They execute their assignments well and you don’t see many missed assignments.”
    Morgan credits Tiftarea head coach Marvin Barton with the Panthers’ crispness on both sides of the ball.
    “He has been a defensive coordinator at Tift County High School, Stephens County High School and Greene-Taliaferro High School,” said Morgan. “He’s a retired public-school guy with a great reputation.”
    The Panthers run a Pro-I offensive set and will keep the ball on the ground almost 90 percent of the time.    
    “Thomas Ganas is a very good tailback,” said Morgan. “Chad Bowen is a solid runner and blocker at fullback. Michael Stephens is a very good tight end. They have good size and very good speed. Our defense will definitely have to play disciplined football because they execute so well offensively that one false step can take you out of a play. We have to be aggressive but also be under control.”
    Last week, the Gator defense held Edmund Burke Academy to just 23 total yards in a 42-0 shellacking. Through seven games, Bulloch has limited opponents to an average of 142 yards per game (120 rushing, 22 passing) and 7.6 points.
Ethan Lovett leads the Gator ‘D’ with 29 solo tackles, 20 assists six tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries. Defensive tackle Nathan Brown has 28 individual stops, 33 assists, three tackles for loss and three sacks. Other defensive leaders include linebacker Michael Deloach (27, 27), nose guard Michael Kimbrell (24, 22) and defensive tackle Ben Newton (24, 15).
    “We have really had a good week at practice,” said Morgan. “Our guys just sense the opportunity that lies ahead of them and they want to make the most of it.”
    Tiftarea’s base defense is a 4-4 but the Panthers will use many different looks.
    “Our blocking schemes don’t change with the different looks,” said Morgan. “But our plays do. Jordan is going to have to be on top of his game to recognize the type of defense that they are in.”
    Bulloch quarterback Jordan Walker has been a master at reading defenses and changing plays at the line of scrimmage this season and Morgan has full confidence in his signal caller.
    Although Walker didn’t have his usual 100-yard or better rushing performance against EBA, he made it possible for others to excel.
    Lovett tallied 151 yards on eight carries, with one being a 79-yard run off of a downfield option pitch. Fullback Matthew Sapp had 54 yards on seven carries including an 11-yard blast for a score. Through the air, Walker was completed four of nine passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns.
    Walker still leads the BA rushing attack with 644 yards on 87 carries and nine TDs. Lovett has 479 yards on 46 carries and six scores. Though the air, Walker is 31-of-65 for 461 yards and nine touchdowns.
    Darion Carter leads in catches with 11 for 232 yards and six TDs while Lovett has hauled in nine balls for 79 yards and two scores and Will Powell has caught eight for 108 and one touchdown.
    Bulloch’s offense has been soaring to new heights this season, averaging 315 yards of total offense per game (249 rushing, 66 passing) and 31.1 points per game. Two other telling statistics are that the Gators average 16 first downs per game and just two punts per contest.
    “I’d like to think we’ve been peaking for the past eight weeks,” said Morgan. “We are using each week to build and improve. We’re definitely better now than we were in Week 1 and hopefully we’ll be better in Week 14 than we are right now.”

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