This Friday night's game with Trinity Christian Academy in Dublin will be the first challenge for the Briarwood Buccaneers, who amassed more than 400 yards in a 60-0 season opening win over Memorial Day School last Friday at Briarwood.
"This Friday night (vs. defending AA state champion Trinity Christian) will be the real deal," Coach Jimmy Barnett said. "We've got a tough schedule this season, and this will be our first real test. It will tell us how good we can really be."
Jonathan Gay and Hughlon Mays upend a Memorial Day runner.
The Crusaders, in addition to an excellent coaching staff, have 15 starters returning from last year's championship team.
"We're the underdogs, no doubt about it," Coach Barnett said.
However, the Bucs are ready to take on the Crusaders.
"I feel good about it. The boys feel good. We're excited, and we're ready to play," Coach Barnett said.
One thing Coach Barnett is excited about is that last year's stand-outs, Tyler Wester and Joseph Batrous, who have been playing sick and injured, should be near full speed by next Friday. Wester has been playing with a series of "nagging" injuries, while Batrous is expected to be back "at least 90 percent" from a freak injury to his right hand.
Unfortunately, the Bucs lost junior Davis Griffin for two weeks to an injury last Friday. Freshman Cane Gilmer will be out for several more weeks, also.
The Bucs had an easy time of it in last Friday's 60-0 win over hapless Memorial Day of Savannah.
"I don't think I've every seen everything go wrong as it did for them," Coach Barnett said, noting that major mistakes dogged the Matadors - missed snaps, fumbles, missed assignments. "They're a young squad, and they'll get better."
Plus, the smothering heat, a negative for every player, was especially a factor for the Matadors, who had only 16 players to the Bucs' 28.
"We wore them down," Coach Barnett said. "We played 28 kids, and they (Matadors) just kept getting tireder, and tireder and tireder."
Of course, Coach Barnett also was quick to point out that the Bucs played an excellent ball game.
"It was a good ball game on our part. We executed wonderfully," he said. "We made a few opening game mistakes, but, overall, we played well. I was particularly pleased with the play of our second team of freshman and sophomores."
Freshman quarterback Chase Walker, freshman back Nick Dawson, and freshman lineman Matthew Graziano's play against Memorial Day was exceptional, Coach Barnett said. Walker carried the ball twice for 19 yards and one TD, and he was 2-for-4 passing for 45 yards. Dawson carried the ball three times for 24 yards and caught one pass for 25 yards. Graziano was a standout on the defensive line.
Also, the offensive line of Andrew Johnson, Jason Dunham, Chase Wilson, and Will Quinn came in for praise from Coach Barnett.
"They dominated the game," he said.
Junior quarterback David Russell "showed a lot of leadership ability" as well as talent as he carried the ball five times for 87 yards and scored one touchdown. He also was 4-for-9 passing with two touchdowns.
In fact, the Bucs accounted for 133 yards passing.
"That's probably the most yardage a Briarwood team has had (passing) in a long time - probably more than we had all last season," Coach Barnett said.
Batrous and sophomore Dave Joesbury were the leading receivers for the Bucs. Batrous caught two passes for 24 yards and two touchdowns and sophomore Joesbury caught two passes for 64 yards and one PAT.
In all, 11 Bucs contributed to the 415 yards gained on offense. Junior Kyle Ewest carried four times for 73 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bucs, who scored four TD's in the first quarter, opened the game with an 80-yard scoring drive. A 38-yard pass from Russell to Joesbury was the highlight of the opening drive, which was capped by a two-yard TD run by Ewest. The PAT kick failed. Taking advantage of Matador mistakes, the Bucs scored three more times in the first - a 39 yard drive, capped by a 13 yard TD run by junior Dustin Pilgrim and an extra point kick by junior Chris Gerlach; an 11-yard drive, capped by a four yard TD pass from Russell to Batrous and then a two-point PAT pass from Russell to Joesbury; and a 35-yard drive, capped by an eight-yard TD run by Gerlach. The PAT failed, and the Bucs led 27-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The Bucs scored only once in the second quarter. Ewest's 64-yard TD run ended an 80-yard drive. Russell ran in a bad PAT snap for two-points, and a 35-0 lead. Halftime came with the Bucs' second team of younger players in the game. Time ran out as Walker hit sophomore Ethan DeMore for a 20-yard gain to the Matador eight.
The Bucs opened the second half with DeMore covering a kickoff fumble on the Matator 20. Two plays later, Russell hit Batrous for a 20-yard TD pass. The PAT failed. The Bucs took over from the Matadors on downs and then capped off a 50-yard drive with a TD by Russell and a PAT kick by Gerlach. The Bucs scored a third time in the third quarter on a 15-yard TD run by junior Chris Gerlach.
With a 54-0 lead, the Bucs scored one time in the fourth, a four-yard run by Walker. The PAT kick was blocked.
Briarwood - 60
Memorial Day - 0
Star of the game: Junior Quarterback David Russell, who went 4-for-9 passing with two touchdowns and garnered 87 yards and one TD on the ground.
Play of the game: On the opening drive, Russell hooked up with Receiver Dave Joesbury for a 38-yard pass play that set up a two-yard TD run by Kyle Ewest.
Up Next: Briarwood (1-0) hits the road to play defending AA state champions Trinity Christian Academy of Dublin.