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Gators head to Edmund Burke
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    A banged-up bunch of Bulloch Academy Gators crawl out of the swamp tonight after a three-week homestand to begin region play on the road in Waynesboro.
    “This is as close to a must-win game as we’ve ever had,” said Bulloch Academy head coach Clint Morgan as his fourth-ranked Gators prepared for Region 2-AA Edmund Burke Academy. “Two of our four region opponents are ranked in the top five in the state so this is definitely what I would call a must-win game.”
    The Spartans (0-5) await the Gator invasion in what has been a traditionally brutal match-up which has seen EBA, at times, physically dominate Bulloch.
“This isn’t the same EBA team that, for years, has averaged 250 pounds across the front line,” said BA head coach Clint Morgan. “But they are still a good-sized football squad.”
    Bulloch (5-1) comes into the contest battered and bruised and minus a fullback, a punter and a return specialist.
    “David Poole has a separated shoulder,” Morgan said of the multi-talented junior. “He will be out a minimum of three weeks and possibly more. A lot of times his efforts at fullback go unnoticed by most, but not by me. People don’t realize just how physically demanding the fullback position is in the triple-option scheme. He takes a beating. He’s an extremely valuable part of our football team and he will definitely be missed.”
    Taking his spots will be sophomore Matthew Sapp and junior Arne Bencker.
    “Matthew will step in at fullback,” said Morgan. “We have all the confidence in the world that he is going to be able to get the job done. He’s been our backup for two years and has been chomping at the bit for an opportunity.”
    Bencker, a German foreign exchange student, gets the call at punter.
    “Statistically, he’s leading the GISA in punting (with one punt for 40 yards),” Morgan said with a smile. “He’s every coach’s dream. He literally knew absolutely zero about American football so he had no bad habits, he’s eager to learn and he’s an athlete who has a lot of potential when it comes to punting.”
    Plans are not final on returning punts and kicks.
    “We’ve got a player playing with a broken wrist,” said Morgan, “one with torn ligaments in his shoulder, one with a broken hand, one who just had a cyst removed, one with an ankle sprain and that’s not even mentioning the little bumps and bruises that all football teams have. But all of these guys know it’s gut check time because it’s the first region game.”
    Bulloch comes in riding a four-game winning streak while posting some impressive offensive and defensive numbers.
    Through six games, the Gators offense has averaged 303 total yards (241 rush, 62 pass) and 29.3 points per game. Quarterback Jordan Walker leads the BA rushing attack with 627 yards and nine touchdowns on 82 carries. Last week against Brentwood, Walker had a career-high 195 yards rushing. Wingback Ethan Lovett has 328 yards and five touchdowns.
    Bulloch has also shown a tendency to attack an opponent through the air.
    In the passing department, Walker is 27-for-56 for 370 yards and six touchdowns. He has completed nine passes to Darion Carter for 158 yards and four scores; eight to Will Powell for 108 yards and a TD; seven to Lovett for 62 yards and a score and three to Taylor Burke for 42 yards.
    Bulloch’s defense has limited opponents to just 162 yards of total offense (137 rush, 26 pass) and 8.8 points per contest. No opponent has scored in the third quarter.
    Linebackers Lovett and Michael DeLoach head an aggressive, gang-tackling bunch of Gators. Lovett is the team’s leading tackler with 28 individual tackles and 20 assists. He also has two fumble recoveries and five tackles for loss. Deloach has 23 solos and 23 assists. Other defensive leaders include nose guard Michael Kimbrell (22, 20) and defensive tackles Nathan Brown (21, 31) and Ben Newton (21, 14).
    In other defensive categories, Newton leads in tackles for loss (eight for 25 yards). Kimbrell and linebacker Matthew Sapp have three sacks each. Kimbrell has also caused three fumbles. Cornerback Will Powell leads the secondary in pass breakups with nine while he, Burke and Carter have one interception each. Defensive end Eli Strickland has blocked a punt.