Last season, Lanier Olliff emerged from spring practice as the favorite to take over quarterbacking duties for Bulloch Academy as a sophomore.
One broken ankle later, he was relegated to the sidelines for the majority of the season as the Gators struggled to score points and stumbled to their first losing season since 2001.
Now fully healthy, Olliff showed how much he can bring to the offense as he conducted a 48-6 dismantling of First Presbyterian Christian Academy in Bulloch’s season opener last week.
The junior signal caller consistently made the right reads in the Gators’ triple-option system and distributed the ball to teammates, making the offense resemble the high-powered threat that it has been so often in recent years.
“It was great to come out as a team and start a new tradition of winning here at Bulloch Academy,” Olliff said. “We had fun and played well. That’s the mentality we want to carry through the season.”
If Olliff and company are to return to the state playoffs, they’ll first have to succeed while playing a tough region schedule and a non-region slate that includes 2013 state champions from all three GISA classifications.
“Our main goal is to keep improving and keep everyone healthy through the non-region schedule,” Olliff said. “We’re going to gain experience, get better, and get ready to have a fun time in region play.”
In high school softball, the general rule is that a team will get as far as its pitching can take it.
Down in Brooklet, the Lady Yellow Jackets are hoping that holds true as the postseason is slowly approaching.
Doing much of the heavy lifting on the mound for SEB so far has been Madison Fields. Last week, Fields notched a career-high 10 strikeouts in a 13-0 win over Jenkins. On Tuesday, Fields was at it again, pitching an abbreviated perfect game and striking out eight out of nine batters faced in a three-inning, 16-0 win over Johnson.
Many ace pitchers are proven upperclassmen, but Fields has become an imposing presence on the mound as a sophomore.
“At first, I was just trying to be confident,” Fields said. “I think I’ve come a long way and the team has come a long way since the start of the season.”
SEB is a heavy favorite to come out on top of its half of Region 1-AAA as fellow region powers Appling County and Tattnall County have been placed in the opposite sub-region this season. The Jackets seem primed to take on the best of the other sub-region for playoff seeding in the region tournament at the end of the season and an 8-0 win over Appling earlier this month has shown that the Jackets can compete with anyone in the region.
“We want to play as a family,” Field said. “The closer we are, the better we play. We need to be at our best to make it to state, so that’s what we’re focusing on right now.”