Two seasons ago, Bulloch Academy took a big leap.
A longtime heavyweight in Class AA of the Georgia Independent School Association, increasing enrollment caused Bulloch to be realigned into Class AAA — the largest in the state.
Now one of the smaller schools in their classification, the Gators haven’t missed a beat. Ronnie Hodges guided his team to dual 8-2 records in the Gators’ first two years in Class AAA, but — after a pair of first round exits in the state playoffs — Bulloch is now looking to take another step forward.
“We’ve got a good senior group that has really grown in the last couple of years,” Hodges said. “We’ve got 10 seniors this season and all of them will be starting for us. They’ve gotten things off to a good start by having a good summer in our workout program.”
While many Gators return this season, some big shoes will have to be filled under center.
Loy Waters spent the last two seasons orchestrating Bulloch’s option offense, but has since graduated. Hodges has identified a handful of potential replacements, but athletic ability is secondary to making quick reads and decisions while directing things at the line of scrimmage.
Will Rushing has the most in-game experience at quarterback, but Smith Reeves, J.P. Padilla, and Lanier Oliff have all been working from under center during the summer.
In other key positions, returning starters Matt Sheppard (RB/LB) and Connor Fordham (OL/DL) figure to carry the load while less experienced players settle into their roles.
The Gators are hosting passing leagues each Tuesday and Thursday throughout July and will keep with their recent trend of getting plenty of head-to-head competition before the season starts. Bulloch will wrap up the first week of August with a three-team jamboree and will have at least three other scrimmages before its first official game against St. Andrew’s on August 29.