WARRENTON - Better work ethics and the fact that the Briarwood Buccaneers have gotten bigger and stronger this summer should help the team in second half play, as the prep football season draws another week closer.
The Bucs, who finished 6-3-1 last season, are under the direction of new Head Football Coach Blake Duncan.
Because the team has a limited amount of players, many of them have to play both ways - offensively and defensively. By the end of the third quarter last season, it was all many of the players could do to put fourth enough strength to play in the fourth quarter.
"We're going to base our season on the second half, because we believe we'll be a lot stronger and able to meet the challenges that will likely confront us during the third and fourth quarters," Coach Duncan said. "We have to be as ready to play in the second half as we are in the first half."
Coach Duncan said his team has had a good summer practice.
"We have worked out a lot in the weight room," Coach Duncan said. "We are a lot bigger and stronger than we were when we first started preparing for the season. And we're going to continue to work out in the weight room all season long. Our strength and conditioning programs will only help make us a better football team."
As far as predictions go, Coach Duncan was quick to state that he doesn't like making them.
"I think it puts too much pressure on the kids," Coach Duncan said. "I mean they're just high school kids and they already have a lot on them. I don't want to add more pressure about what's expected of them from a season win-loss record."
Personally, he believes his team will be prepared and competitive against each of the opponents his team faces this season.
"We're not going to prepare for a game ahead of another game," he said. "We're going to take them one game at a time."
The Bucs will get an opportunity to see how ready they are for the season when they play John Hancock Academy of Sparta in a scrimmage game at Briarwood tonight. The scrimmage is set for 5 p.m.
Then on Tuesday, Aug. 21, the Bucs will travel to Sparta to compete in the John Hancock Scrimmage Classic. The Bucs are scheduled to play David Emanuel Academy of Swainsboro at 7 p.m.
The scrimmage games are hoped aimed at preparing the Bucs for the regular season, which gets underway at home on Friday, Aug. 30 when they play host to the Edmund Burke Academy Spartans of Waynesboro.
"We've had a good summer of workouts so far," Coach Duncan said. "It's hard to gauge what kind of season we might have. We don't know what the intangibles might be, who might get hurt, etc. All you can do is the best you can do. And that's what we've been teaching the kids."
The Bucs will be working from multiple I offense this season. Junior quarterback Chase Walker, who drives nearly an hour one way to come to school from his home near Rayle, will engineer the team.
"We're expecting a lot of good things from Chase," Coach Duncan said.
The team's two backup quarterbacks include Cody Clark, a sophomore and Garrett Mohr, a freshman.
Walker will be aided in the backfield by junior halfback Nick Dawson and sophomore fullback Matthew McElveen.
One of the offensive stars of the Bucs - both offensively and defensively, is expected to be Dave Joesbury. The senior, who stands 6-5, caught several touchdown passes last season. He is expected to be recruited by a number of colleges this season because of his athletic skills in both football and basketball.
From an offensive standpoint, Coach Duncan said, the Bucs plan on being a balanced-attack team.
"We're going to run the ball sometimes and we're going to throw the football sometimes," he explained.
Defensively, the Bucs hope to get strong services from such players as Andrew Johnson, a senior tackle, who weighs 240 pounds; John Spivey, a senior middle linebacker; Hughlon Mays, a senior cornerback; and Joesbury, who also will play free-safety.
Other players expected to see lots of action on the gridiron this season for the Bucs include Trey Stadler, a sophomore end; and Jonathan Gay, a junior lineman, who plays both ways.