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BA ready to crash the AAA playoffs
BA FOOTBALL  082610 268
Bulloch Academy's Morris Prince (1) celebrates with teammate Lestonz Lewis during the Gators' season opening win over David Emanuel Academy August 22.

Two students.

When the Georgia Independent School Association reclassified schools for the 2010-11 season, those last two students were enough to bump Bulloch Academy from double-A to triple-A — the highest classification in the state.

As the smallest school in its new home, Bulloch definitely had its work cut out.

None of that has seemed to bother the Gators much. BA hit the ground running and picked up right where it left off from last season’s quarterfinal appearance in the AA state playoffs.

Given a little bit of help to make a playoff appearance possible, the Gators finished the job last Friday, pummeling Pinewood by a 42-0 margin to secure the No. 3 seed out of Region 1-IAAA.

"It was great to see our boys respond like they did," said BA coach Clint Morgan. "We got the help we needed the week before, so we knew what needed to be done. It says a lot about our team that they were able to come out and play one of their best games in such a big spot."

Even though Pinewood managed just one win this season, the Patriots posed a mental challenge. As rivals that play on an annual basis, no one on the Gators’ roster had even notched a win against Pinewood.

"They’ve always been that one team that gave us trouble," said Morgan. "It doesn’t really matter if they’re up or down. They always play us tough, and we knew that we were going to have to go out and take a win from them."

The Gators did just that, and now they move on to compete for a state title in their first year of AAA competition.

"We knew the challenge that laid before us at the beginning of the season," said Morgan. "We believed in ourselves and put in all the effort. Now we have a chance to pull off another first for Bulloch Academy — win a game in the AAA playoffs."

In a continuation of their indoctrination into AAA, the Gators draw Mount de Sales — the largest school in the GISA — for their first round playoff matchup.

The Cavaliers (9-1) own the No. 2 seed out of Region 2-IAAA which means that a road trip to Macon is in order for Bulloch.

Mount de Sales is making its third consecutive appearance in the state playoffs and — with only a Week 10 upset in the Cavs’ loss column — should provide a big challenge for the Gators.

"We’ve spent all season proving the critics wrong," said Morgan. "All lot of people might not have thought that we could get to the playoffs in our first year up here, but I don’t think that anyone in this program thought the same way.

"Our guys aren’t too worried about who the opponent is. We just go out there and try to get a win each week."

If BA is to keep its season going, its senior leaders will need to step up in the postseason. The Gators have an experienced team that has seen postseason success before, so Morgan and company are more concerned with taking another step forward than rising to the occasion.

"I’m confident that our players are ready for the challenge," said Morgan. "Truthfully, since there are only eight teams in the triple-A playoffs, we’ve already gone as far as we did last year. Now, we just have to pick up the ball and try to go a little farther."


Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.