Bulloch Academy and Deerfield-Windsor held identical 6-4 marks as they entered their first round GISA state playoff game Friday night in Albany.
Unfortunately for the Gators, the Knights have been to the state semifinals or farther — with three state championships to boot — in each of the last 10 seasons and played like a team with that sort of prestigious pedigree.
A Seth Brant field goal in the first quarter pulled Bulloch as close as 6-3 in the early moments of the game, but it was all Deerfield-Windsor after that. The Knights were able to keep the Bulloch defense on its heels throughout the night and the Gators committed several costly turnovers as the Knights rolled to a 40-10 victory that brought Bulloch Academy’s season to a close.
“You’ve gotta give them credit,” Bulloch coach Terrence Hennessy said. “They just outplayed us. They were the better team. I’m proud of our guys and we fought to the very end, but Deerfield is just a really good team.”
The Knights had built their lead to 26-3 by halftime and Bulloch’s lone touchdown - a 50-yard run by Jake Nelson - didn’t do anything to slow the momentum as Deerfield piled on two more touchdowns to pull away.
It’s tough to end any season, but Hennessy had an extra moment of pause when thinking about the senior players who walked off the field as Gators for the final time.
“They gave it everything,” Hennessy said. “Four years ago, I came here and took over a team that had just gone 3-7. The guys who started here with me are this year’s seniors. They won 26 games in their four years and never had a losing season.
“That’s all due to the work they’ve put in over that time. It’s going to be tough to see them go.”
Bulloch has made the state playoffs in nine of the last 10 seasons, but Friday’s loss marked the seventh consecutive time that the Gators have made their exit after the first round.