Bulloch Academy tries to get back on the winning track tonight when the Gators travel to Sandersville to battle the Brentwood War Eagles.
BA suffered its first loss of the season last week, a 35-20 defeat at the hands of the two-time GISA Class AAA defending state champions Westfield Hornets. But rather than hang their heads, the Gators seemed to have gained strength from it.
“I think it gave us confidence,” said head coach Terence Hennessy. “We went toe-to-toe and blow-for-blow with the best team in the GISA. But I just hope that it didn’t give us too much confidence. I hope that the guys don’t think they can just show up and Brentwood will roll over and play dead….because they won’t.”
It’s Homecoming Night at the Linton Road school, one of the events of the town’s annual Kaolin Festival, and the War Eagles will by flying high from the week’s activities. The crowning jewel of the night would be a victory.
Brentwood (1-5) has a four-game losing streak but Hennessy has a healthy respect for the squad and its head coach.
“They are an experienced football team which has been competitive in all of their games this season and has even beaten one of our region opponents,” he said. “We will be facing another one of the geniuses in GISA football (Bert Brown) so we aren’t taking them lightly.”
The Gators (5-1) will be focusing on fullback Willis Toulson, quarterback Peyton Massengale and wide receiver Joshua Mixon.
“They run the option out of the Wing-T formation,” said Hennessy. “Toulson is tremendous at fullback, Massengale is a good runner and Mixon is a downfield threat.”
BA linebacker Tyce Lovett and the Gator ‘D’ will have to be wary of the quick-hitting traps, fullback dives and quarterback keepers.
Lovett leads Bulloch with 37 individual tackles and 25 assists. Other top tacklers are Hunter Perry (30, 27), Brandon Merrill (29, 24), Trevor Mason (18, 10) and Davis Childs (15, 9).
Noseguard Jack Brooker heads the War Eagle defense, which uses multiple formations to try and stop opponents.
Bulloch counters with its I-formation option and wishbone power packages featuring quarterback Lanier Olliff, fullback Lovett and tailbacks Jarves Williams and Tyler Budgett. All four are in the 300s yardage-wise. Olliff has seven TDs, Williams and Budgett has six and Lovett has four.
Bulloch’s passing game has become more of a priority this season. Olliff has connected on 30-of-65 tosses for 781 and six TDs but six interceptions. His favorite receivers are Perry (12 catches for 368 yards and five scores) and Childs (seven for 178 and one TD).
The squads have one common opponent, Gatewood. Bulloch nipped the Gators 35-34 in Week 4 while the War Eagles fell 34-13 in Week 5. According to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association website, BA beat Brentwood 36-12 in 2014 and holds a 6-5 lead in the overall series.