In a region with only five teams, the margin for error gets pretty slim. The Bulloch Academy Gators have gone from a possibility of winning the region title, to a possible home playoff game to fighting, to just trying to make the postseason in less than three weeks.
Last week's 32-13 loss to Trinity Christian put the Gators (5-4, 1-2) into a must win situation this week as they travel to Pinewood (2-6, 0-3) with a state playoff berth on the line.
“I feel like our mindset is good,” said Bulloch Academy coach Terence Hennessy. “They know that we made some mistakes Friday night, and we got beat by a good football team, but we have to forget about that and get ready to play Pinewood.”
A traditional power, the Pinewood Patriots have struggled this year with an uncharacteristic 2-7 season and are also 0-3 in region play.
“Despite their record they, are a good football team,” said Hennessy. “They are going to run the ball out of the shotgun with one back or two backs. Defensively, they are going to line up in the same defense as us — the wide tackle four-four. And they are solid on special teams.”
The Gators struggled against Trinity Christian most notably on offense where they were shut out and held to just two first downs throughout the entire second half.
“We are struggling on offense right now,” said Hennessy. “It’s not just one thing we can point to. One play it’s a missed block, then it’s a back going in the wrong direction, and the next it’s just a bad call from the coaches. We are going to try and simplify things this week and hopefully be able to out execute Pinewood.”
The Gators have only lost one game all season at home, but have struggled away from the friendly confines of Gator Alley with a 1-3 record.
“Sooner or later you have to play well on the road,” said Hennessy, “We’ve just got to find a way to get things done, move the football, eat up some clock, and hopefully win a close game in the fourth quarter.”
A state playoff berth looked like an unrealistic goal for the Patriots only a few weeks ago but the Gator’s late season struggles have opened the door for their biggest rival.
“If we had won last week they would have been eliminated from the postseason,” said Hennessy, “But now this is basically a playoff game, the winner gets to keep playing. We’ve told our kids you are playing 48 minutes in order to get a chance to play another 48 minutes, plain and simple.”
The Gators and Patriots are set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff in Bellville.