The Bulloch Academy Gators posted a 5-7 mark in 2021 but won their first state playoff game since 2018 with a thrilling 20-14 overtime victory at Bethlehem Christian before falling in round two to the eventual state champs in John Milledge.
This year the Gators have a new coach in former Edmund Burke head coach Aaron Phillips, and a new offense as he brought his triple option under center attack with him.
The Gators have already played two scrimmages and they were both victories. Bulloch Academy knocked off Portal 21-20 and then last Friday the Gators shut out Memorial Day 42-0. Phillips likes what he has seen and the progression the team has made the past few weeks.
“I like where we are headed, but we aren’t there yet,” said Phillips. “The first two scrimmages we were able to figure a few things out. I think the biggest thing is we have the right people in the right places. We have a few guys we are trying to keep on one side of the ball and not play them as much both ways. We have gained a few players over the last few weeks as well to help our numbers which has been helpful too.”
On offense junior quarterback Ben Aaron has been solid in running the offense and has had the benefit of some pretty productive backs. Bryson Scott provides the power at fullback at 6-1, 250 pounds, while Isaiah Smart, Luke Willoughby and Reid Clifton have been able to give them some speed at slotback. On the offensive line the Gators have size and experience which has helped provide some good preseason numbers.
“We have produced over 400 yards of offense in both our scrimmage games,” said Phillips. “No one has really been able to stop our running game. I know it’s been scrimmages but I feel good about that. Ben Aaron has been making some good reads at quarterback and distributing the ball like he is supposed to. Bryson Scott is carrying the load for us at fullback and he has some pretty good speed for a guy who weighs about 250 pounds. All of our slotbacks have done a good job when called on. It was tough to lose Brennan Perossa to a knee injury as we were really counting on him, but the guys we have our doing a good job.”
On defense the Gators have plenty of size and Phillips is pleased with their progress on that side of the ball as well.
“Right now, we average about 250 pounds per person on the defensive line,” said Phillips. “We are doing a great job flying around the ball and we held Memorial Day to -35 yards on offense last week. I think we have a good mix of size and speed, and trying to keep those guys from playing too much on offense should help us a lot.”
“I like what I have seen from Brock Bailey up on the defensive line,” said Phillips. “We have a couple kids in Waylon Boyd and Carter Hennon who have really stepped up for us. Austin Rodewolt has stepped into a position we call our Willie end and has probably impressed me the most so far especially with this being a new position for him.”
The Gators open the regular season with a rare 7:00 start Friday night as they host Tiftarea at Gator Alley. We will have a complete preview of that game in Thursday’s Statesboro Herald.