As the regular season winds down and games become more important, every team wants a solid offensive threat that it can rely on.
Down at Gator Alley, Bulloch Academy has three.
The Gators improved to 6-3 on the season — and 2-0 in region play — last week as they rolled to a 45-24 victory over Frederica. In the win, Bulloch running backs Andrew Howell (109 yards), Will Rushing (106) and Dylan Stuckey (103) all topped the century mark in one of the Gators’ most impressive offensive showings yet.
Throughout the season, the trio has been a nearly unstoppable force. In the Gators’ wishbone running attack, all three are often on the field at the same time, preventing opposing defenses from keying on any one of them.
“I think that’s a key to our offense,” Rushing said. “Even when our subs come in, they’re just as likely to get the ball.”
“It keeps us all pretty fresh,” Stuckey said. “We’re doing our best to break a big run when we get the ball. When someone else has it, we’re trying to block and get them a big run.”
That system has worked like a charm so far.
Through nine games, Howell leads the team with 700 rushing yards. Stuckey is close behind with 620 while Rushing has rushed for 398 yards and hauled in 80 more in receiving.
All have also had at least one game where they have led the team in yardage.
“We just run the plays that are called,” Howell said. “We don’t worry about stats. The main concern is just running the play and winning games.”
“If anything, it’s like a friendly competition,” Stuckey said. “We all want to do well, but we push each other to do better.”
If you could say that any of the Gators got the short end of that ‘friendly competition’ last week, it could be quarterback Lanier Olliff – engineer and chief distributor in the offense.
“Lanier has had some great games for us this season,” Rushing said. “But he might have to hear about (not rushing for 100 yards) a little bit at practice this week.”
All three running backs credit their success not only to the running threat and blocking of their counterparts, but to the big guys in front of them.
Bulloch’s offensive line has had to battle through injuries for much of the season. At some points, the Gators have had just five healthy linemen to put in front of the offensive backfield, and yet Stuckey will still attest to having some runs where he can’t find an opponent to evade due to the great blocking up front.
That sort of team effort has the Gators contending for a region title just one season after missing out on the state playoffs altogether.
A win over Trinity Christian this week would set up a Halloween night showdown with arch rival Pinewood for the region championship and a top seed in the state playoffs.
“Bulloch Academy hasn’t had a region title for a while,” Rushing said. “We haven’t had a home playoff game either. That’s something that we really want to do.”
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.