The second barricade blocking Bulloch Academy’s road to a possible GISA Region 2-AAA title will be put up tonight by Frederica Academy.
Student-athletes from St. Simons Island regularly make the trip to Statesboro to battle the Gators in other sports during the school year but this will mark the first time that the Knights have faced Bulloch in football.
Frederica football burst onto the scene in 2011 and claimed the Class A state championship in 2012. Last year, they made it to the semi-finals.
But this year, the Knights, who have moved to AAA, have lost three in a row, including two region games.
“They are a hot and cold team,” said BA head coach Terence Hennessy. “Two weeks ago, they played Trinity Christian of Dublin as tough as a team can. They had two touchdowns called back and had a field goal blocked in overtime. Then, last week, they get whipped by Pinewood.”
The Knights (2-5, 0-2) line up in either a power-I or spread offense and a 4-3 defense.
“They have a couple of players that scare us,” said Hennessy. “Their playmakers are Brandon Blake at fullback, Hollis Veal at tailback and Nick Harrison at quarterback. But they will have a lot of players going both ways. They only have 23 on the roster and there are a lot of underclassmen. They only have about six or seven seniors.”
The Gators (5-3, 1-0) have won two in a row and Hennessy would like to see it become three.
“If we play like we have been playing the last two weeks,” he said, “we will be OK. The guys have been focused and determined. We’ve been playing physical football. Our kids have seemed to have bought into what we are doing.”
He credits the 11 seniors for the surge of confidence.
“As coaches, we can preach it all day long,” he said. “But when the seniors say it, believe it and do it, then the underclassmen follow their lead. The seniors, especially Dylan Stuckey, Andrew Howell, Jake Hagan and Josh Bishop, are doing a good job of keeping people from panicking when bad things happen.”
Having an almost-complete roster also helps.
“It’s nice to have bodies that we can substitute in and out,” said Hennessy. “We can take a player out for a play or two to explain what he has done wrong or what is expected and then put him back in. Also, it helps to give someone a breather and keep him fresh.”
In the past two weeks, Bulloch has scored 57 points and given up 12. Last week’s dominating performance against Edmund Burke (21-0) may have been a turning point for the Gators.
“I am happy with our execution on offense,” said Hennessy. “We still need to limit turnovers and penalties. Our starting defense has given up just six points in two games. That’s pretty good.”