The Bulloch Academy Gators will be playing during primetime Saturday night as they travel up I-16 to Dublin to take on the Crusaders of Trinity Christian Academy. No, you won’t find them on ESPN or ABC, but that doesn’t mean this game isn’t important to the standings in Region 2AAA of the GISA. The Gators (5-1-1) come into this game having defeated Frederica Academy Knights 8-7 in one of the most exciting games in Gator Alley history. The victory over the Knights put the Gators in the driver’s seat for the Region Championship.
The Crusaders (2-4) are looking for their first region win after a heartbreaking 21-14 loss to Pinewood Christian Academy on Monday night, and they would love nothing more than to ruin the Gators chances of that Region title. The Crusaders success on offense starts up front and with their power running game.
“They run a variation of the Wing-T with emphasis on the fullback,” said Defensive Coordinator Ronnie Hodges. “You have got to stop the fullback, and they’ve got several that can carry the ball.”
If the Crusaders plan is to run the ball, then they’ll be running right at one of the Gators major strengths. The Gators defensive line of Seniors G.C. Kimbrell and Garrett Williams as well as Junior Trevor Mason and Sophomore Nathaniel Rice held the explosive Frederica rushing attack in check most of the night The Gator defense held the Knights to only 53 yards rushing in 3 quarters of play. Junior Jad Street will be asked to step up on Saturday night as Junior starting linebacker Brandon Merrill is questionable for the game. Street will have plenty of help in the linebacking corp from All-Region Senior Tyce Lovett and Sophomore tackling machine Jake Nelson.
The Gators offense did just enough last week to get the victory, gaining only 123 yards on the ground. The Gators are looking for more than that this week, as they face a Crusader defense that will come at them from several different formations. “They run the 50 and some 40,” said Coach Hodges. “We have got to control that line of scrimmage.” If the Gators are able to control the line of scrimmage, then look for Seniors Lovett and Jake Mock to rack up big yardage. Sophomore quarterback Don Aaron completed only one pass last week, but it was the biggest completion for the Gators so far this season, a 35 yard strike on 4th and 14 to keep the Gators winning drive alive. Look for Aaron and the passing game to find more success this week against the Crusaders.
The Gator kicking game will be called upon heavily to do their job on Saturday night. Senior kicker Sean O’Sullivan and punter Trevor Mason will be asked to pin the Crusaders deep every chance they get. “We have got to win the field position battle,” said Hodges. “We cannot give them a short field. If we can win field position then I like our chances.”
Well there’s no chance of rain, and kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. in Dublin.