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Gators chomping at chance for upset
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The Trinity Christian Crusaders are 7-1, ranked No. 1 in the Georgia Independent School Association Class AA coaches’ poll, have a 1,000-yard rusher and have held their opponents to only 43 cumulative points.
    Don’t bet the farm on it, says Bulloch Academy head coach Clint Morgan as his Gators prepare to travel to Dublin to face the Crusaders tonight in a key Region 2-AA contest.
    “I feel very confident that we can go in there and knock off the No. 1 team in the state,” said Morgan. “We did it two years ago in Dublin when Yancey Mooney kicked a 37-yard field with 27 seconds left (17-15 on Oct. 15, 2004). This year’s football team has the same kind of heart and dedication that those guys had.”
    Make no mistake though, Morgan doesn’t dismiss the fact that the Crusaders are a good football team.
    “They are a very good football team,” he said. “They are not dominant in any particular area but they are pretty doggone good at every position.”
    Comparing the two squads through the GISA stats website (, the Gators actually have amassed more total yardage than the Crusaders (2,413 to 2,333). But TCS has scored 305 points while BA has tallied 189. The Trinity defense has also held opponents to almost 700 fewer total yards and 125 fewer points.
    Still, Morgan doesn’t bat an eye when talking about a possible upset.
    “Trinity is deserving of their No. 1 ranking…until another Class AA team knocks them off,” he said with a wink.
    A win for Bulloch means much more than beating the top team in the state. It means staying alive in the hunt for a post-season playoff spot. Both squads are in Region 2-AA. Two weeks ago, BA lost to Edmund Burke. If the Crusaders beat the Gators, Bulloch will be sitting home come playoff time.
    “For us, the playoffs start this week,” said Morgan.
    The Trinity offense will be led by junior tailback Kolby Jackson, who has 1,003 yards and 11 touchdowns on 125 carries.
    “He is the real deal,” said Morgan. “He’s got size, strength and speed. He’s a very aggressive, hard-nosed runner. Our key is to stop him before he gets going.”
    The Crusaders run a 50 series defense which is virtually identical to Bulloch’s. In fact, says Morgan, both squads are so alike that if the players were to switch jerseys, fans couldn’t tell them apart.  
    "One of the biggest keys to pulling off the upset", says Morgan, "is to go for the throat".
    “Offensively, we have to finish off our drives,” he said. “We have turned into a pretty decent football team. At the beginning of the year, no one even remotely gave us a shot to be a competitive squad.”
    As the season has progressed, the Gators have gotten better and better.
    Bulloch’s offense clicked last Friday night when the Gators whipped Tiftarea Academy 31-14 in surprisingly-easy fashion.
    Quarterback Jordan Walker was almost magical as he ran the BA option, reading the Panther defense to determine if he should handoff to fullback David Poole, pitch to tailback Trevor Darden or take it himself around the end. The Gator offensive line off center James Conner, guards Drew Cheshire and Corey Owens, tackles Ben Newton and Matt Simons and tight ends Michael Kimbrell and Michael Deloach did a masterful job of outquicking and subduing the much larger Tiftarea linemen.
    The end result was 257 yards of rushing offense with the junior signal-caller accounting for 168 yards and four touchdowns. Darden added 44 yards while Poole had 43. Walker also connected on six-of-13 passes for 68 yards. Wide receiver Ethan Lovett caught five balls for 54 yards.
    Linebacker James Conner heads the Gator defense that held the Panthers to just 23 total yards in the first half and three interceptions. Conner leads the Gators with 91 tackles (55 solo and 36 assists). Newton, at defensive tackle, and Lovett, at cornerback, are tied for second on the squad with 57 tackles (38, 19 for Newton and 37, 20 for Lovett). Cheshire, at defensive end, is fourth (25, 27) and Owens, at linebacker, is fifth (16, 36).
    “I think all of our hard work has paid off,” Morgan said of his vastly improved Gators. “We’re not the pushovers that people thought we would be.”