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Bulloch kicks off season at Memorial Day

    Starting two weeks before the rest of the county, Bulloch Academy will have the spotlight on them when they travel to Savannah to take on the three-time defending GISA AA state champions — Memorial Day School.
    “They know how to play for sure,” said head coach Terence Hennessey. “You don’t win that many titles if you don’t.”
    The task may sound enormous, but for BA this is familiar territory. The Gators handed the Matadors their final loss of the season in 2015 before Memorial Day went on an eight-game run to win their fifth state title in the last eight years. The 21-7 win for BA was one of the highlights of their 8-4 2015 campaign which ended in a first round exit to John Milledge Academy.
    It’s already been established BA will be going a different route on offense this year, which will be on display for the first time tonight. Sophomore Don Aaron will be at the forefront of it, and while he shown good strides of improvement throwing the ball — Hennessey is quick to remind fans Aaron is still just a sophomore.
    “He had one vertical route in the scrimmage where he needed to lead his receiver and underthrew post along a bad slant” Hennessey said. “He’s a good sophomore and needs to learn the touch. For someone who’s 15, we liked what we saw.”
    In the controlled scrimmage against Augusta Prep and Edmund Burke, Aaron only completed seven of his 15 passes. However, eight of those incompletions were drops — giving Aaron a true accuracy percentage of 73. Aaron’s best receiver from the scrimmage was Nathan Rice, who caught three of the four passes thrown his way for 45 yards, two first downs and a touchdown. Rice, along with Brandon Merill, Lawson Anderson and Davis Childs will make up the core of the Gator’s receiving core.
    “In that scrimmage we played in the hottest conditions we’ve seen all year and still gave great effort,” Henessey said. “We saw a lot of improvements we can build on.”
    They’ll be up against a Memorial Day defense that likes to play a bump-and-run style of coverage. Hennessey hopes to take advantage of this by sending his receivers deep in hopes to catch the Matadors pressing to hard off the line. Memorial Day will blitz their linebackers heavily as well, leaving the middle of the field open for slant routes which appear often in BA’s new offense.
    On offense, Memorial Day will stretch the field with their run game. Their style of rushing attack allows for cutback lanes, which will force BA to stay disciplined on their defensive front. Hennessey said the Gators will look to keep the Matadors hemmed inside, but against Edmund Burke and Augusta Academy in the scrimmage BA gave up 4.5 yards a carry on 20 runs.
    “They are consistently the most athletic team I face,” Hennessey said. “But we know what to expect from them, so there should be no surprises.”
    Hennessey admitted since it’s such an early season game, the two sides will not exchange game film. So no real time scouting was done from either side. With both teams coming into the game essentially blind, they’ll have to rely on last year’s game for any intelligence. Memorial Day will only dress 22 players, so BA will look to play a lot of bodies in order to wear the Matadors down.
    “We still have a lot of kids to evaluate,” Hennessey said. “We’re going to play a lot of them to see who can help us down the road.”
    Tonight’s game will kick off at 7:30 in Garden City Stadium in Savannah.