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Region title on the line for Gators

    In 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States of America and the nation’s first African-American commander-in-chief. Pilot Chelsey B. “Sully” Sullenberger successfully crash landed a U.S. Airways jetliner with 155 people on board in the Hudson River.
        Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, passes away as well as other entertainment notables including Farrah Fawcett, Patrick Swayze, Brittany Murphy and Walter Cronkite.
    ‘Avatar’ was the top grossing movie of the year. Others were ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Breed Prince,’ ‘Twilight: New Moon,’ ‘Up’ and ‘The Blind Side.’ The music of the Black-Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Flo Rida topped the pop charts.
    And it was the last time that the football teams of Bulloch Academy and Pinewood Christian Academy won GISA region championships. The Gators captured the Region 2-AA crown while the Patriots won the Region 4-AAA title.
    Fast forward to 2014 and both teams are now in Region 2-AAA. The Gators are 7-3 overall and 3-0 in region play while the Patriots are 7-2 and also 3-0 in region play. Pinewood is on a five-game winning streak. Bulloch is on a four-game winning streak. One of those will end tonight when the Patriots makes the short drive to Statesboro to battle the Gators for the Region 2-AAA title.
    With only 25 miles separating the two schools, Bulloch and Pinewood are rivals in every sport and activity. In football, the Patriots hold an 18-9 advantage in the series. The Gators have won three of the past four meetings though. PCA waxed Bulloch 43-17 in 2013 but BA had wins in 2012, ’11 and ’10.
    The battles are usually epic between the two teams and tonight should be no exception.
    According to BA head coach Terence Hennessy, Pinewood utilizes a spread formation on offense that is 50/50 run and pass.
    “They run a college-style offense,” he said. “They run a zone-read running scheme from the shotgun formation with one back. The quarterback reads the end. They pass well and throw a lot of quick screens and vertical routes.”
    The Gator head man singled out senior quarterback Brenley Hagan, junior running back Preston Campbell and sophomore receiver Cameron Dutton.
    “Hagan does not go down easy and breaks a lot of tackles,” said Hennessy. “He throws the ball well from both the pocket and on the run. Campbell is fast. He has good vision and makes good cuts. Dutton has good hands and good speed.”
    Defensively, the Patriots run a wide-tackle, 4-4 defense.
    “They are very solid on defense,” he said. “Seniors Collin Edgar and Chancellor Randall are very good linemen. Hagan plays safety and has had a good many interceptions.
    “I think they are a little bit better than we are,” continued Hennessy, “mainly because Coach (Keith) Wasson has been there for a number of years (11) so the players are very familiar and comfortable with his system. Our guys are still learning our system.”
    But Hennessy believes that the Gators can win their first region championship in five years if they do the little things right.
    “We can’t turn the ball over or commit stupid penalties,” he said. “We will have to control the ball and them their offense, which is pretty good, off the field. We are going to continue our game plan of “ground and pound” and try to control the clock. We will probably have to play better than we did last week (42-16 win over Trinity) to beat them.”