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New-look BA in action
080417 BA SCRIMMAGE 01
Bulloch Academy's Tyreke Mingle, top, snags a pass in front of a St. Andrew's defender before escaping for a touchdown as the Gators gets some scrimmage time in with St. Andrew's and Edmund Burke Friday.

    No Tyce Lovett, no Davis Childs, No GC Kimbrell and no Garrett Williams — safe to say Bulloch Academy football will look a lot different than it has the past three seasons.
    A solid core of seniors had their 2016 season wrecked by injuries to key players like Jake Mock and Brandon Merrill, sending BA into a tailspin down the stretch and limping into the playoffs where they were fortunate to play Heritage as close as they did in the first round. But if Friday’s practice session with Edmund Burke and St. Andrews was an indication of what is to come of the Gators in 2017, fans shouldn’t have too much to fret about.
    Playing game simulations against both teams, BA’s offense would score six touchdowns in 10 possessions while the defense gave up three scores in nine possessions. BA head coach Terrence Hennessey was pleased with most of what he saw, knowing his team needs to be on track for their home opener this coming Friday against Memorial Day School.
    “I feel like we looked better this year doing the same thing at this time a year ago,” Hennessey said. “We have a lot of bodies out there and no one got hurt, which is what’s really important.”
    Two of BA’s touchdowns came in electric fashion, courtesy of a new face — Robert Toombs transfer Ty Mingle. Mingle touched the ball eight times during the totality of the scrimmage to score on a 40-yard fly sweep and a 30-yard catch-and-run from a Don Aaron pass.
    Mingle turned what should have been a 10-yard button hook into a long touchdown when he back-juked his defender and ran to the edge of the field where no one for Trinity could keep up with him. It’s the kind of speed BA enjoyed with Mock last season, but considering Mingle’s youth Hennessey could enjoy more than a one-year rental like he did with Mock.
    “Ty’s a good football player and he gives us options,” Hennessey said. “There’s a breakaway threat with him, but he’s just one guy so we need ten guys and I feel good about all of them.”
    Aaron, now starting his second season at quarterback as a junior, completed eight of his 18 passes for 113 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Granted, it wouldn’t be fair to pin the turnovers on Aaron. The first interception came off a deflection at the line of scrimmage and just so happened to land in the vicinity of an EBA linebacker while the second slipped through the hands of a receiver and fell right back into the hands of another EBA defender.
    BA did have four dropped passes during the morning scrimmages and had they been able to hold on to the ball Aaron would have been 10-16 with only one picked off pass. Hennessey knows he has the passing game to create big plays this season, but it’s going to take help from his skill players to prevent mistakes like the ones seen Friday.
    “Drops are going to happen, but this is a practice so I’d rather them happen now than next Friday,” Hennessey said.
    On defense is where BA was arguably even more impressive. Between five possessions against EBA and Trinity-Dublin the Gators gave up 3.1 yards per play on 42 plays, forced five TFL and recovered four fumbles. But perhaps the best stat was BA allowed only a single completed pass — forcing both opponents to an 1-7 mark in the air.
    Jad Street, Seth Conner, and Lynes McKinney all showed out on defense for BA. McKinney led the team with five tackles and a sack, while Street and Conner would combine for another eight stops and two TFL. Hennessey noted he was particularly impressed with McKinney, considering he’s seemingly made the transition from running back to the defensive line with no complaints.
    “He told me ‘coach I’ll go anywhere you need me to if it gets me there on Friday nights’,” Hennessey said. “You couldn’t ask for anything more.”
    BA will have one more week to tighten the screws on their operation before they face Memorial Day in Statesboro on Aug. 11 to open the GISA season.