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Gators host region opener
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It’s shaping up to be a David-and-Goliath-type matchup in Gator Alley tonight as Bulloch Academy hosts Edmund Burke Academy in the GISA region 2-AA opener for both teams.
    According to BA assistant head coach Ronnie Hodges, the Spartans' players are so big that they cast shadows on the Gator players.
    “There aren’t any heights and weights on the Edmund Burke roster but those guys look huge on tape,” said Hodges. “Matt McDaniel has really made a tremendous difference in their offensive line and, on defense as noseguard, he controls the middle without a problem. We can’t afford to rooster fight with them.”
    McDaniel and Jamey Elliott, both seniors, are the Spartans’ strong guard-and-tackle combo and usually blast holes for the EBA backs.
    “Edmund Burke likes to keep it between the tackles because they have so much power,” said Hodges. “They will run from the wishbone or Power-I sets. Chad Smith (another senior) makes their offense go. He is a pure power runner. In the wishbone, he lines up at fullback. In the power-I, he lines up at tailback.”
    Still, said Hodges, the Gators will also have to honor the speed of quarterback Jeremy Hayes.
    “They can ram it down your throat but have enough speed to get to the corner, especially Hayes,” said Hodges. “We can’t solely concentrate on their power because they have enough speed to get outside. Then, they throw the ball just enough to keep you honest. Edmund Burke was picked from the beginning to win our region. That’s why this is such a big game for us.”
    So, the big question posed to Hodges is how can the Gators stop the Spartan war machine?
    “The plan is to control the gaps on the line and other areas of responsibility with our quickness,” he said. “We’ll have to do some slanting and some other things to compensate for their size advantage. We must out-quick them.”
    And Hodges thinks that’s where the advantage lies for the smaller Gators.
    “I think we can move the football on them because we are much quicker,” he said. “But we’ve still got to block. On offense, we’ve got to get to the outside. That’s our strength. We can also pop the quick ones up the middle as long as we don’t have to maintain our blocks too long.”
    Conditioning, added Hodges, may also come into play late in the game.
    Bulloch is the underdog in tonight’s contest but a hard-fought 21-20 win over Brentwood last week has the Gators’ confidence flying high.
    “I thought we started growing up as a football team in the second half of the Briarwood game two weeks ago, said Hodges.
    “Last week, what impressed me most was that the guys didn’t hang their heads and quit after those fumbles in the third quarter. The win seemed to help the boys get the swagger back in their step. I think we are improving every week.”

    Note: Hodges stepped in for head coach Clint Morgan Tuesday after Morgan rushed to Dothan, Ala., upon receiving news of a motorcycle accident involving his oldest brother and sister-in-law. Tragically, Morgan’s brother passed away Wednesday night.