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Gators gear up for season opener
BA Football
Bulloch Academy running back Kam Harrison fights for yardage during a Nov. 27, 2020 state playoff game against Frederica Academy at Gator Alley. - photo by JOSH AUBREY

The Bulloch Academy Gators will christen in the 2021 season for Bulloch County as they kick things off Friday night in their opener at Savannah Country Day.

The Gators played St. Andrews and Augusta Prep in practice games giving had coach Steve Pennington at least a little idea of what he can expect under the light in Savannah Friday.

“Our players adjusted well especially with some getting their first taste of playing as a starter in a game,” said Pennington. “They followed instructions well on the fly and so there were some really important positive things that came out of those experiences.”

Bulloch Academy has a little more experience on the defensive side of the ball and are also trying to find a new quarterback as well as breaking in an entirely new offensive line. Coach Pennigton feels he may have to rely a little more on his experience defense to pull the team through until the offense is able to catch up.

“On the defensive side we feel very confident in the fact that we have a lot of experience returning so we know what to expect,” said Pennington. “On offense we know we have talent and athleticism but those guys are not as experienced so we know there will be some growing pains, but so far the effort has been there which is exciting to see.”

The Gators do have plenty of weapons including the most highly recruited player in school history in Florida State commit WR/RB Rodney Hill. The position with the least varsity experience is at quarterback where a pair of sophomores are battling it out with Ben Aaron and Brennan Perosa both expected to take snaps Friday night.


"We feel like both of those guys are equally capable of leading this team," said Pennington. "Both will play in the opening game and throughout the season because each one has their own strengths which will help us move the ball. They have taken the challenge with great enthusiasm and our players believe in both of them. It will be a growing process, but we expect them both to be ready Friday night."

The Gators have only played a handful of GHSA schools in their football history but started things off nicely last season as they beat Savannah Country Day 32-2 in a lopsided game at Gator Alley which was aided by six Savannah Country Day turnovers. 

“Last year there were a couple injuries they got hit with the week of our game including one to their starting center,” said Pennington. “They had a lot of trouble with the snap and a lot of balls were on the ground and they got in a hole which we were able to take advantage of.”

The Hornets will be a bit of an unknown this year as they welcome in first year head coach John Mohring. Mohring was an All-American linebacker at Georgia Southern and Pennington is a little concerned not having any video to see what the Hornets will be doing this year.

“John Mohring was a heck of a player at Georgia Southern and has been doing a good job of coaching down in Florida before coming to Savannah Country Day,” said Pennington. “I feel like he has breathed some new life into that program, and it seems like they have a lot of excitement over there. We really don’t have any idea of what they are going to do so we will have to be adaptable and make adjustments throughout the game.”

The Hornets biggest weapon is senior quarterback Barry Kleinpeter who has had many Division-1 offers. The Hornets are expected to run the ball a little more than they have in the past, and Kleinpeter will be under center for the first time in his high school career which has been primarily in the shotgun. Joining him in the backfield will be a couple talented running backs in sophomore Keith James and senior transfer KeJuan Gibson-Allen.

They have picked up a lot of players though transfer and should be much improved,” said Pennington. “I’m sure they really want to make amends after what we were able to do last year. We are expecting a much-improved team and expect a battle Friday night.”

The Gators and the Hornets are set for a 7:30 start in Savannah.