Bulloch Academy senior quarterback Lanier Olliff hopes that the Gators can continue to ride the emotional high that they received last week when they meet the Memorial Day Blue Thunder tonight.
The Gators (4-0) are coming off a sensational 35-34 victory over Gatewood that made the Gator players dig deep to find out what they were made of.
Bulloch blocked a punt, recovered a fumble in the end zone, converted two crucial fourth-down situations, had several big plays and stopped a game-winning, two-point conversion.
“It was an emotionally charged win,” said Gator field general. “We just have to channel those emotions for Friday’s game and stay focused.”
But Memorial (1-3) is the two-time GISA defending Class AA state champions and, despite their record, have BA head coach Terence Hennessy worried.
“They were 2-2 when they beat us last year,” he said of last year’s 39-7 loss.
After losses in the first two games of the season, Memorial got rid of the goose egg last week with a 49-8 triumph over Trinity.
“Every ball carrier averaged over 10 yards per carry or more and the offense had 549 yards rushing,” he said. “They got right last week.”
But the undefeated Gators may be in defensive form to stop the MDS speedsters.
Senior linebacker Tyce Lovett leads the stingy squad with 43 tackles (24 individuals and 19 assists). Senior defensive end Hunter Perry has 35 (21, 14) while sophomore linebacker Brandon Merrill has 32 (15, 17). Sophomore defensive tackle Trevor Mason has 22 stops (13, nine) and senior defensive end Dylan Humphries has 20 (13, seven).
According to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association website, the Gators are 15-13-0 against Memorial and, according to Olliff, the Gators are poised to make it 16 wins.
“It will be challenging because we’ve had a few injuries lately,” he said. “But we are ready for the challenge and it is absolutely a possibility that we can go 5-0.”
Offensively, the Gators have four ball carriers who carry the load.
Fullback Lovett leads the squad with 339 yards and four touchdowns on 45 carries. Senior tailback Tyler Budgett has 274 yards and six TDs on 28 carries while Olliff has 216 yards and five scores on 22 totes. Senior tailback Jarves Williams has 214 yards and four touchdowns on 15 carries.
Through the air, Olliff has completed 17-of-35 passes for 511 yards and five scores. His favorite target is Perry, who has seven catches for 277 yards and four TDs.
But, according to Hennessy, the injury bug has indeed claimed more Gators this week, including senior kicker Brian Marsh.
“We will only dress out 22 or 23 players,” he said. “I really don’t know what we will be in store for against Memorial. It could go very good for us or it could go very bad.”