On the Sherwood Christian Academy football roster, seniors MJ Green and Rashard Davis don’t have a position on offense.
They are listed as ATH - Athlete.
“They can play anywhere on the field,” said Bulloch Academy head football coach Ronnie Hodges. “They will line up at wide receiver, tailback, split end, wingback or quarterback. They have to be located. We intend to have men on them at all times.”
The Gators (4-2, 2-2) host the Eagles (1-4, 1-2) from Albany tonight at Gator Alley in a key GISA Region 1-AAA contest. Both teams have two losses in region play and neither can afford another one. In order for Bulloch to pull off the victory, Green and Davis have to be contained and tackled.
“Both of them can turn a loss into a big gain or a touchdown,” said Hodges. “Their speed scares me. We have to bottle them up, not let them get outside, keep them from cutting back against the grain and bring them down.”
According to Hodges, Green has not been full speed due to injury. Quarterback Brett Shepard has not played in three weeks after suffering a concussion. But Hodges believes that an off week has helped both to recover sufficiently to wreak havoc at Gator Alley.
“Green has not played regularly because of injuries,” he said. “Shepard has not played because of the concussion. But I feel sure the week off has helped them. We have practiced all week on the assumption that both of them are full speed and will be playing Friday night.”
Bulloch’s defense will be on red alert for Green, Davis and Shepard but, if last Friday night’s performance is any indication, the Gators are ready. Against region foe Southland, the Bulloch boys stopped four fourth-down plays and had five goal-line stands, including turning the Raiders away twice in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.
“The way they responded back-to-back-to-back like that was simply amazing,” said Hodges. “Our defense was determined that they were not going to score. We grew up a lot last Friday night.”
Senior linebacker Dillan Finch leads the Gator defense with 34 solo tackles and 31 assists. Senior defensive lineman Caleb Bohannon is second with 23 individual stops and 20 assists. Other leaders are junior linebacker Loy Waters (21, 13), senior defensive lineman Codi Johnson (19, 18) and junior defensive back Bailey Smith (18, 13).
Sherwood’s defense has given up 190 points in five games and Hodges hopes the trend will continue. The Eagle defense is based as a four-man front but they will jump into a 3-5 when necessary.
Bulloch’s offense seemed to get back on track last week against Southland (a 21-15 victory). But the Gators blew a 21-0 halftime lead with four second-half fumbles.
BA has its share of injuries and Hodges has to get top-notch playing time from both his reserves who have been forced into action and more of his starters who have been forced to play both offense and defense.
“We will be shuffling people around in order to rest others and give them breaks,” he said. “More guys are going both ways than last year and even earlier this year. I have been very proud of the way our older kids have been taking the younger ones under their wings, so to speak. The younger guys are responding and stepping up. For instance, freshman Jake Hagan has started at offensive guard for the last two weeks. When (offensive guard) Conner Reed when down Friday night, freshman Joshua Bishop stepped up to fill the position.”
Rushing leader Harrison Averitt (49-141, six TDs) saw limited action last week but should be back to full strength tonight. Quarterback Loy Waters (49-141, three TDs), fullback Chris Young (67-355, seven TDs) and wingback Jaylen Evans (25-292, three TDs) should attack the Eagles with the Gator option.