The two-time defending GISA Class AAA state champion Westfield Hornets invade Gator Alley tonight and BA head coach Terence Hennessy knows just how to beat them.
“Score more points than they do,” he said with a hearty laugh.
Hennessy knows his undefeated Gators are facing one of the best teams in the state. He and his staff have spent hours watching footage of the squad’s games. The Gator head man seems in awe of the 3-1 Hornets.
“I don’t think that anyone can stop them offensively,” he said. “They are the best coached them in the state of Georgia. Their fullback (Josh Jenkins) is a stud, their quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) is a good runner and passer and receivers (Gavin Edmondson and Giles Amos) can go get the ball.
“They are very good up front on both sides of the ball,” continued Hennessy. “John Walker Moore is a beast at offensive and defensive tackle. They are strong and athletic on defense. They are very fast at the linebacker position and have a pretty good secondary.”
But, he stressed, Westfield has been beaten and has been scored upon.
“They have given up points,” he said. “They are a lot like us in the aspect that they play eight or so guys both ways.”
The way that the Gators can beat Westfield, he said, is to play extremely good football.
“I think for us to have a chance,” he said, “we are going to have to move the ball on them and control the clock. We need long drives to keep their offense off the field.”
To do that, offensive lineman Braxton Brinson, Seth Conner, Trevor Mason, Will Kauber and Thomas Bowen must control the line of scrimmage. Tight ends Hunter Perry and Dylan Humphries must slow down the fast Hornet linebacking corps. Receivers Davis Childs and Drew Bolke must block on the corners and downfield.
Quarterback Lanier Olliff, fullback Tyce Lovett and backs Jarves Williams and Tyler Budget have to continue to make the Gator running game flourish. Lovett leads the ground game with 385 yards and four scores on 57 carries. Williams has 313 and six TDs, Budgett has 286 and six touchdowns and Olliff has 231 and five scores. Through the air, Bulloch has completed 25-of-46 passes for 680 yards and six TDs.
Defensively, the Gators are going to roll dice.
“We are going to blitz and slant,” said Hennessy. “If we guess right, it will make for big losses. If we guess wrong, it will make for big gains. Our defense is better than it was last year and hopefully, we’ll have more success at slowing them down than we did last year.”
Linebackers Lovett and Brandon Merril lead the Gator defense. The hard-nosed Lovett 57 tackles (34 individuals and 23 assists) and the quick Merrill has 46 (24, 22). Other leaders are Perry (23, 19), Mason (16, 10) and Humphries (13, 9).
The Gators have never beaten the Hornets and suffered a humiliating 55-14 defeat last season. For that not to happen again, Bulloch has to step up its game.
“We have to control the clock, keep it close and try to win it in the fourth quarter,” said Hennessy.