By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
BA ready to attack pass-happy Tiftarea

#5 Bulloch (5-1, 0-1) at Tiftarea (1-6, 0-1)
7:30 p.m., 850 AM

    "Red Dog! Red Dog!"
    The traditional coach’s term for a blitz on defense should be heard often tonight when Bulloch Academy battles pass-happy Tiftarea in a key GISA Region 1-AAA matchup in Chula.
    The young Panthers run from the shotgun formation, according to BA head coach Ronnie Hodges, and will put the ball in the air much more than on the ground.
    “From videos we’ve seen, they pass the ball about 70 percent of the time,” he said. “We’ve really worked hard this week on defending against the pass and especially a pass rush. This is something we normally don’t do on defense because you are always leaving an area uncovered and leaving yourself vulnerable.”
    Hodges hopes that the speed of his linebackers will allow them to reach the quarterback before he can put the pigskin in the air.
    “We will be trying to take advantage of their inexperienced offensive line,” said Hodges. “It either will work or it won’t.”
    Leading the charge will be senior defensive end Jarret Humphries, who has 41 individual tackles, 29 assists and five quarterback sacks. Other top Gator defenders are sophomore defensive tackle Andrew Howell (34, 39), junior linebacker Zach Sapp (30, 28), senior linebacker Loy Waters (26, 18) and senior cornerback Harrison Averitt (21, 10).
    Tiftarea (1-6, 0-1) dropped its first region game last Friday night, losing to Pinewood 21-14 while the Gators (5-1, 0-1) got pounded 31-0 by Deerfield-Windsor.
    “We sure got derailed,” said Hodges. “Tonight we will try to start the winning streak over again. We plan to run our regular game plan (triple option) but we have to establish the fullback. If we do that, we can get the outside game going.
    The Knights stuffed the Gator offense last week but senior quarterback Loy Waters and company seemed to take the loss in stride.
    “When they came to practice Monday,” said Hodges, “the attitude was great. They have been real loose. Even though Tiftarea has only won one game, they will bring their ‘A’ game. We have stressed during the week that records mean nothing when you strap it on in the lockerroom Friday night.
    Averitt leads the offense with 762 yards on 58 carries while junior fullback Matt Sheppard has 387 yards on 67 carries. Both have five touchdowns. Waters has 245 yards and six TDs on the ground and has completed 13-of-32 passes for 328 yards and five scores. His favorite receiver is senior wide out Bailey Smith, who has six catches for 140 yards.
    Over halfway through the season, penalties and mental mistakes still seem to plague the Gators. In six games, Bulloch has been flagged 48 times for 401.5 yards.
    “We were still having mistakes in practice this week,” said Hodges. “Focus and concentration is the key to avoiding penalties.”
    Even though the drive to Chula is a little over three hours and the game will be broadcast live on Yahoo 850 AM, Hodges implores the Gator faithful to make the trip.
    “I know it is a long way,” he said, “but we need the support. It means a lot of the boys.”