RTCA (2-1) at
Bulloch Academy (2-0)
7:30 p.m., 850 AM
A well-balanced Robert Toombs Crusader squad rides into Gator Alley tonight and that has Bulloch Academy head coach Ronnie Hodges feeling a little uneasy.
“I worry about a team that has speed, can throw the ball well and has good discipline,” said Hodges. “They are a little bit more power-oriented than the first two teams we’ve seen. They’ve got speed to get outside and are big enough to run inside. Coach (Thomas) Smith takes advantage of the strengths of all of his personnel and puts them in the right positions.”
Two of the things which Hodges worries most about are running backs Rico Rogers and Marion Dingle.
“They are real good football players,” said Hodges. “They’ve got speed and quickness.”
It will be the second straight week that the Gators have seen a shotgun offense. Hodges said that the Crusaders are very similar to Bethesda (last week’s opponent) in that they will spread out the field, using four and five wide receivers.
The Gator defense will have to match the RTCA spread with man defense, stone-wall defensive-end play, hard-charging cornerbacks and controlled backside pursuit.
“Jarret Humphries (senior defensive end) had a great game last week,” said Hodges. “So did Matthew Sapp (junior linebacker). Both are coming back from season-ending injury last year. They are picking up right where they left off. Andrew Howell (sophomore defensive lineman) has been doing what we thought he was capable of doing. Our defensive ends, outside linebackers and backside defense did a great job against Bethesda last week. We were aggressive but controlled.”
In the 21-20 victory over Bethesda, Humphries led the BA defense with 11 solo tackles and seven assists. Howell had eight individuals and nine assists as both senior linebackers Loy Waters and Harrison Averitt had four solo stops and three assists each.
Still, the big play hurt the Gators as the Blazers completed four passes for 118 yards, including a 55-yarder down to the BA 20-yard line with a little over a minute left in the game. But it was the backside pursuit of quarterback David Grayson that saved the game for Bulloch.
Grayson tripped and fell on one scramble and was tackled by Matt Sheppard for a 10-yard loss on the final play of the game.
RTCA runs a 50 series defense and has a good linebacking and secondary corps. Hodges maintains that the Gator offense will have to step up its performance in order to beat the Crusaders.
“We have got to execute on offense better,” he said. “We’ve got to have long, sustained drives which will keep the ball away from them.”
The longest scoring drive for the Gators against Bethesda was only three plays. BA had big plays from Averitt (45-yard run), Sheppard (12-yard run) and Bailey Smith (30-yard pass from Loy Waters. Averitt led the night with 89 yards while Sheppard added 71.
Hodges was tickled with the performances of his special teams units.
“Kicker J.P. Padilla and the kick-off and punt coverage teams did well,” said Hodges. “He had a school-record punt (62 yards) and his pooch kicks were great. The coverage on those were just right. Our kickoff receiving team did a great job as well.”
Hodges still worries about the 20 penalties that his team has received in two games.
“We are going into our third game,” he said. “We really need to have that under control.”