Bulloch Academy (3-0) at Trinity Christian (3-1)
7:30 p.m., 850 AM
Normally, it’s the quarterback, running backs and wide receivers who are usually praised as an opposing team’s star players.
But Bulloch Academy head coach Ronnie Hodges lifted up another group of young men when discussing tonight’s opponent, Trinity Christian School of Dublin.
The offensive linemen.
“The line is what makes them as good as they are,” said Hodges. “They are bigger than we are and have had so much game experience. I think most of them have been starting since their freshmen or sophomore years.”
The Class AA Crusaders are 3-1 with victories over Sherwood Christian (28-0), Piedmont (35-14) and Gatewood (42-7). Trinity lost 51-19 last week to John Milledge but Hodges said the final score was deceiving.
“It was a two-point ball game late in the second quarter,” he said, “and 28-19 at the half.”
In recent years, the Gators have beaten up on the Crusaders but Hodges thinks that this year’s game may be different.
“This is a much better football team than we have seen in the past,” he said. “They are well coached, very physical and do the little things right.”
The Gators (3-0) will see a deceptive Wing-T offense and the Gator coaches have been stressing to their players all week long the importance of reading their keys.
“We haven’t seen a Wing-T offense since last season,” Hodges said of the misdirection offensive scheme. “Our linebackers can’t go with all of that misdirection and motion. They will have to stay home and play their position.”
The aggressive Gator defense flies to the football but, said Hodges, each player will have to read their keys and stick with them.
“Trinity is a big-play type of team and we can’t give them that,” he said. “They will lull you to sleep with their running game then slip in a play-action pass off of one of their better running plays.”
Leading the BA defense is senior defensive end Jarrett Humphries and sophomore Andrew Howell. Howell has 24 individual tackles and 18 assists while Humphries has 24 solo stops, 16 assists, three sacks and two pass breakups. Other leaders include senior cornerback Harrison Averitt (12, five, two pass breakups and two interceptions), junior linebacker Zach Sapp (10, 20) and junior defensive lineman Hobby Mills (10, 15).
Offensively, the Gator linemen will have to execute well against the skilled TCS defensive line to make the Bulloch option successful.
Averitt leads the Gator offense with 456 yards on 27 carries and four TDs. The explosive tailback is a big-play man but can also grind out yardage. Quarterback Loy Waters has 181 yards on 29 carries and five scores. Both Bailey Smith and Matt Sheppard have 126 yards and one score.
Hodges also sees the kicking game as a major factor. BA’s John Paul Padilla has kicked two field goals, 14 of 15 extra points and has eight touchbacks, seven of which came in last week’s 44-18 victory over Robert Toombs.
“They are the best team that we’ve faced so far this season,” said Hodges. “Ball control, field position and penalties will be a major role in the game.”