Mystery swirls around Bulloch Academy’s opening-season contest with First Presbyterian Christian Academy tonight at Long-Bell Stadium in Hinesville.
“We are going in blind and it scares me to death,” said BA head football coach Terence Hennessy. “They could have 15 players or they could have 50.”
Bulloch beat the Highlanders 48-6 last season at Gator Alley, racking up 284 yards of rushing in the rout. Hennessy hopes that the Gator faithful will see something similar this evening.
“Offensively, we’re going to be a lot like last year,” he said. “We will run the I-formation and the option. Our quarterback (senior Lanier Olliff) and our fullbacks (senior Josh Bohannon and junior Tyce Lovett) will carry the load.”
Last season, Olliff had 1,229 yards of total offense. He rushed for nine TDS and threw seven.
“Lanier did a great job for us last year,” said Hennessy. “He has gotten faster and stronger over the summer. He has done a great job being a leader, making more summer workouts than anyone else.”
The Gators, who finished 7-5 last season, lost their one-two punch at running back though.
Tailback Andrew Howell and fullback Dylan Stuckey combined for 1,678 yards on the ground and 18 touchdowns. Hennessy hopes to find that kind of magic again as he has four players vying for the starting roles.
“Bohannon and Lovett will try to fill Stuckey’s shoes,” he said. “Josh gets down in his three-point stance and opposing defenses seem to lose him. Tyce bring a load when he hits you. The best thing is that they are two of our physically strongest players on the team. I don’t know which one is faster.”
Both saw limited action toting the mail last season.
Tyler Budgett, an offseason transfer from Portal High School, and Jarves Williams will split time at tailback. The seniors have two different running styles.
“Jarves is shifter and is a scat back type of runner,” said Hennessy. “Tyler is more of a downhill runner.”
One of the other mysteries is the Gators’ offensive line.
“That’s a question mark,” said Hennessy. “We return just three starters.”
Senior Braxton Brinson anchors the line at scrimmage with sophomores Seth Conner and Trevor Mason nailing down the left side of the line at guard and tackle respectively.
“I know how we’ve looked in practices,” Hennessy said. “We’ll just have to wait and see how we will play against someone else.”
Senior Will Kauber, junior Garrett Williams, sophomore Thomas Bowen and freshman Jonathan Beecher will all see time in the trenches.
A familiar face returns to the sidelines to head the defense.
“Thank the Lord that Ronnie Hodges was coaxed out of retirement to be our defensive coordinator,” said Hennessy. “He brought back the 50 front defense.”
Bohannon and Lovett lead the defense from their linebacker spots. Seniors Dylan Humphries and Hunter Perry secure the line at defensive ends while junior Davis Childs leads the secondary.
Besides the linemen mentioned earlier, others who will see action include sophomores Stone Thomas and Brandon Merrill.
Senior Brian Marsh will handle the kicking duties but Hennessy is still searching for a punter.
“We’ve been hitting each other for two weeks straight,” he said. “The guys are eager to line it up against another team. We had a great 6 a.m. practice Thursday morning and I’m interested to see how some of them are going to react looking across the line at someone new.”