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Gators, Knights clash

    Bulloch Academy takes its second step toward post-season play tonight when the Gators battle Frederica Academy on St. Simons Island. The Knights (4-3 overall and 1-1 in GISA Region 2-AAA) are an up-and-down team, according to BA head coach Terence Hennessy.
    “They play really good and dominate people one week,” he said. “Then the next week, it’s a different story. It’s not only the level of competition either. It’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
    But one Frederica player who is consistent is Hollis Veal.
    “He will be one of the best athletes that we’ve seen all year,” said Hennessy. Running back, wide receiver, defensive back….you name it.”
    In last year’s 45-24 shootout at Gator Alley, Veal returned the opening kickoff 45 yards, had 67 yards rushing and a seven-yard TD scamper and also caught a pass for 12 yards.
    Other notables are  freshman quarterback Gavin Wilson and receivers Jaylen Smpson and Jashon Sheffield, who are also good defensive backs.
    “He doesn’t play like a freshman,” said Hennessy. “He has a good arm and a soft touch on the ball. He can also run well.
    “They are a spread team that is 50-50 run/pass,” he continued. “In high school, that is a lot of passing. They don’t throw deep all of the time. They run a lot of short, high-percentage pass routes. When teams slide up on defense to stop the deep routes, they will throw it over the top.”
    But, said Hennessy, they will also lineup in a wishbone formation and try punch through opposing defenses.
    BA linebackers Tyce Lovett and Brandon Merrill will lead the Gator defense, which has to be flexible to stop both the pass and the run. Lovett is BA’s leading tackler with 53 solo stops and 34 assists. Merrill has 44 individuals and 31 assists. Other top defenders are Hunter Perry (35, 33), Trevor Mason (30, 11) and Davis Childs (21, 13).
    Defensively, Bulloch (7-1,1-0) will see different formations.
    “I don’t know what they will line up in,” said Hennessy. “On video, we’ve seen the 50 series, a 4-3 and a 4-4. Their linebackers like to blitz and will hit you. They have really good timing on their blitzes too. Their wide receivers are good cover guys too.”
    Bulloch’s option offense features a smart quarterback, a hard-headed fullback and a quick and fast tailback.
    At quarterback, Lanier Olliff reads the ends well and has numerous double-digit runs. He leads the Gator offense with 480 yards and seven scores on 63 carries. Tailback Jarves Williams can squeeze through the smallest hole and be gone in a flash. He has 479 yards and seven TDs on 53 carries. Fullback Lovett has a punishing running style that has netted 474 yards and five touchdowns.
    Through the air, Olliff had a record-tying performance last week in BA’s 32-13 win over EBA, passing for four touchdowns. He has thrown for 12 touchdowns and 940 yards. His favorite targets are Perry (16-for-406, eight TDs) and Childs (12-for-266, two TDs).
    “We will run the option and force Frederica to be disciplined,” said Hennessy. “When they load up the box trying to stop it, we’ll throw over the top of them.”