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BA looks to shut down Memorial's Habersham

Memorial Day (2-2) at Bulloch Academy (2-2)
Friday, 7:30 p.m., 850 AM
Gator Alley

    The third time will be the charm for the Bulloch Academy defense against highly-touted tailbacks.
    In Week Three, Rico Rogers of Robert Toombs had over 400 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns. The result was a 43-34 loss for the Gators.
    In Week Four, Palmer Clark of Gatewood was held to 89 yards, 31 of which were earned on the last three plays of the game. The result was a 33-7 win for the Gators.
    Tonight, McKinley Habersham and the Memorial Day School Blue Thunder roll into Gator Alley and odds are 50-50 as to how the Gator ‘D’ will do.
The 5-foot-8, 180-pound senior seems to be the heart and soul of the team from Savannah.
    Through four games, Habersham has rushed for 570 yards and six touchdowns on 53 carries. He has caught four passes for 162 yards and two more scores. He has returned kickoffs for 113 yards and one touchdown. He has kicked three PATs and scored three two-point conversions. He is also the leading tackler on defense.
    “He scares me to death,” said BA head coach Terence Hennessy. “He takes off so quick that he looks like he’s being shot out of a gun sometimes. Where he sees a hole, that’s where he goes.”
According to the BA head man, Habersham raced for over 250 yards on the ground against Bethesda in a lopsided 41-24 victory and close to 300 against Trinity Christian in a 37-31 win.
    “He had two touchdowns called back against Trinity,” said Hennessy. “He could have very easily had another 100 yards of total offense.”
    After early-season losses to Valwood (51-15) and Pinewood (22-14), the Blue Thunder has a two-game winning streak and looks to make it three in a row.
    “Memorial has a big offensive line and they run an old-school Wing-T offense behind it, even though they don’t run any traditional Wing-T plays,” he said. “They run mostly powers, off-tackles, sweeps and cut-back plays.”
    When Habersham needs a breather, Memorial brings in another equally impressive back, Irvin Riley (5-8, 185-pound junior).
    “We’ve got to hem up Habersham and Riley,” said Hennessy.
    His approach to stopping both backs will be having his defensive lineman read and react.
    “We will try to have our linemen not penetrate as much and move more side-to-side,” he said. “There may even be plays where we back them off the ball on the line of scrimmage. If they don’t have the football, it’s hard for them to score.”
    The Gators, who last met the Blue Thunder in 2009 and came away with a 20-8 win, are coming off a big 33-7 victory over Gatewood.
“We still plan to use the no-huddle offense and pound the football at them,” said Hennessy. “Our passing game (junior QB Lanier Olliff is 17-of-37 for 252 yards and six TDs) is based on our running game. Most of our big pass plays have been set up by the run. The pass is only as successful as our running game is.”
    The BA wishbone attack of seniors Andrew Howell, Dylan Stuckey and Will Rushing has yielded 757 yards and 14 scores.
    “If we make the game a slobberknocker, then we will be in it,” said Hennessy. “If it turns into a track meet, then we won’t be.”