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Buccaneers ready for season

Coach Jimmy Barnett's Briarwood Academy Buccaneers officially kicked-off their 2004 pre-season drills this past Monday morning, July 26 with an intense four-hour workout.

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David Russell drinks water during a break in practice.

"We are practicing each day this week from 8 a.m. to noon to keep primarily the kids out of the hot sun," said Coach Barnett. "Out of the scheduled four hours of practice, we are getting in a good three hours of fundamentals and great teaching of the game of football."

If it is any indication on how well Coach Barnett has inspired the young adults at Briarwood, the number of kids that have come out to participate in football is the only answer anyone needs.

"I am completely pleased with our number of participants this week," Coach Barnett added. "We have a total of 33 players on each of our varsity and B-team squads. That number of 66 is really great for our program here."

The numbers game gives Briarwood the advantage of creating competition between players at all positions

"We now have 12 guys vying for five lineman positions and 16 athletes gunning for the back positions," Coach Barnett said. "This year in the Buccaneer program you have to earn your position."

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Joseph Batrous throws a pass.

In the all-important quarterback position for Briarwood this season, Coach Barnett has a lot of experience coming back to run his multiple-offense that will include the option. He's counting on big seasons from David Russell, Joseph Batrous, Burt Goolsby and David Joesbury.

"If we have one big question mark in our game plan, it will be at the quarterback spot," Barnett said. "We have six kids battling for the QB spot, and each one of these athletes brings a diverse trait to the position."

The Buccaneer offensive backfield will probably be the strong-point for the program. Tyler Wester, Jeffery Kent and Burt Goolsby are returning from last year's squad.

"Each one of these guys that make up this powerful trio brings something different to the table," Coach Barnett said. "Our power runners will be Wester and Kent, while Goolsby will offer his looseness and quickness."

Coach Barnett said he was surprised by both Wester and Kent during the recent team weigh-in.

"Both of these athletes have grown tremendously from last season," he said. "Wester has gained 30 pounds from last season and now can press 285 pounds, while Kent has increased about 24 pounds and can bench 300 pounds."

On the offensive line, the Buccaneers have some familiar faces and new faces vying for positions. Jason Dunham, Chase Wilson, Jason Holley, Al Dudley and Morgan Howard are among those trying to earn a spot.

"In our multiple offense, we will keep the ball on the ground a lot. We are going to spread the football out a little, but the run-game will be our bread-basket," Coach Barnett said.

"We are also working on the triple option for our offense. We will have different looks coming out of the option, which will enable us to have the opportunity to utilize two backs to possibly handle the ball."

Another big threat for the Buccaneer offense will be at the tight end position, where Steven Sparks will be a big target for the pass.

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Jason Dunham (left) and Carl Chapman slam tackling dummies during Briarwood's Tuesday morning practice. The Bucs kick off their season on Aug. 20.

"My theory is that we have the fastest tight end in the GISA right here at Briarwood in Sparks," Barnett said. "Last year, he was fourth in the state in the 100-yard dash, and the three athletes that beat him out have graduated. This kid will be in the spotlight in the future as an offensive weapon if he develops. Right now, he is my tight end, but in the future, he could be someone else's split end on a higher level of competition."

The strength of the Buccaneer defense will lie on the shoulders of the three returning linebackers. The trio of Kent, Wester and Holley will be a force to be reckoned within a few weeks.

Other rising athletes that will do a good job for the Buccaneer defense will be Jacob Gay, B.J. Thompson and Kyle Ewest.

"What's remarkable is that some of our sophomores on defense are dead even with our juniors and seniors in earning a position for us," Barnett said. "All these athletes have worked extremely hard in the off-season."

The Buccaneers will kick-off their regular season on Friday night, Aug. 20, with a home game against Memorial Day School from Savannah.



Web posted on Thursday, July 29, 2004


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