Gatewood School (0-3) at Bulloch Academy (2-1)
7:30 p.m., 850 AM (Friday)
For the second straight game, Bulloch Academy will be keying on a player who wears the number 5 on his jersey. But BA head coach Terence Hennessy hopes it goes better than it did last week.
In Bulloch’s 43-34 shootout with Robert Toombs last Friday in Lyons, Crusader senior Rico Rogers racked up 425 all-purpose yards and scored five touchdowns.
Today, junior Palmer Clark (5-9, 172 lbs.) leads the Gatewood Gators into the Statesboro swamp.
“We have to stop number 5 (Palmer)” said Hennessy. “He is very quick and has breakaway speed. He’s a game breaker. This is the second week in a row that we’ve had to stop a number 5. Hopefully, we’ll do a better job this week.”
Gatewood (0-3) also has a tough fullback/linebacker in senior Luke Leverett (6-0, 190 pounds).
“He’s pretty aggressive,” said Hennessy. “He will hit you pretty darn hard if you don’t block him.”
The visiting Gators, who hail from Eatonton and are in Region 4-AAA, will look familiar although the teams have never met in regular-season play.
“They are a lot like Robert Toombs,” said Hennessy. “But there’s more of them. They can substitute more frequently. I don’t know why they are 0-3. They look much better than that on film. They are big up front on both sides of the ball.”
Gatewood uses an I-formation backfield on offense and runs plays typical of that formation such as isolations, powers, sweeps and options. They will run a 50 series defense.
The Bulloch Gators (2-1) have victories over First Presbyterian of Hinesville (48-6) and David Emanuel (58-16) and a tough loss to Robert Toombs Christian Academy (43-34). Hennessy is still kicking himself over last Friday night’s defeat in Lyons to the reigning GISA Class A state champion.
“We missed several opportunities and a lot of those were my fault,” he said. “The other ones were just missed executions. We had our chances and just didn’t take advantage of them.”
RTCA held a 15-14 lead at halftime and 22-20 midway through the third.
“For three and a half quarters, we were there,” said Hennessy. “We had a chance to tie the game in the third quarter and we were within a score until late in the fourth quarter. I was very proud of the way the kids played. We had to learn to take advantage of opportunities when we have them.”
A short practice week due to weather has put his Gators behind the proverbial eight-ball.
“Monday is a very important workday for us and we had to spend it in the gym because of lightning in the area,” said Hennessy. “You really can get much done in the gym. We missed time on fundamentals and had to push everything back a day. It also hurts our physical recovery time.”
Bulloch has four players who are still recovering from injuries and last week, another two-way starter got added to the list of those wearing street clothes.
“Joshua Bishop is out with his shoulder,” Hennessy said of the starting offensive tackle and defensive end. “We are going to have to go with two freshmen; Trevor Mason on offense and Seth Conner on defense.”
Playing at home for the first time in two weeks will be a blessing for Hennessy.
“Being at home helps get a team back into its routine and rhythm,” he said. “It’s always nice to play in front of a big crowd that hopefully cheering for you.”