Briarwood Academy's opening game of the 2007 season against Edmund Burke Academy gave them a win, but was not a success in the coach's eyes.
A slow, steady rain fell on the field for most of the game Thursday night, making things pretty slippery, but even so, new head football coach Blake Duncan said turnovers and mistakes almost lost them the game.
"The team played hard, but we cannot play the way we did against EBA and expect to win," Coach Duncan said. "I am proud that the team played so hard but if we make that many mistakes against an experienced team, we will not win."
Coach Duncan said that EBA has a new head football coach this year and that helped to equalize the teams a bit.
The second annual Backyard Battle had a scoreless first quarter. The match seemed pretty even at the start but in the second quarter, the Bucs turned it on. A mishandled snap on a punt by EBA led to a safety and a two-point lead for Briarwood.
The Spartans kicked off then to the Bucs who fumbled the ball and recovered it quickly, thanks to Trey Stadler and Hughlon Mays. Edmund Burke's defense held strong with a quarterback sack, leading Briarwood to call a time out. With a second down and 18 yards to go, Matthew McElveen ran down the left sideline for a 62-yard touchdown. Dave Joesbury's kick for the extra point was good and the Bucs had a 9-0 lead with 10 minutes left in the first half.
The two teams battled turnovers, offensive miscues and the steady drizzle until EBA mounted a drive with six minutes left on the clock in the fourth quarter. The Spartans quarterback ran for a touchdown, followed by a two point conversion, pulling them to within one of the Bucs.
Minutes later, EBA recovered a Buccaneer fumble on their 38-yard line and started their final drive. But a quarterback sack and an incomplete pass led the Spartans to a third down with four yards to go. EBA swept right and were downed hard by the Bucs at the 37-yard line. After a check of the chains, the Spartans fell short of the first down by just 2 inches. The Bucs stacked the Spartans on the next play and held on to a win.
Coach Duncan says the team's strength played a big role in the team holding EBA back.
"We are lifting weights and have been working out as a team since late May. This year we have added weight lifting to game day. We have been lifting everyday and will continue lifting everyday, even before a game," said Coach Duncan.
The Bucs take on Robert Toombs this week on the road and have a big, strong team to compete against.
"Toombs has had the same head coach for quite a while," Coach Duncan said. "Their team has had consistent leadership and therefore they play more evenly. We will have to step up this week."
Briarwood 9, Edmund Burke 8
Stars of the game: If not for the special teams, the Bucs would not have won the game. Special teams provided the safety, the trap and the fourth-and-1 hold in the last 45 seconds of the game.
Play of the game: It's a three-way tie: the second quarter safety, the 62-yard touchdown by sophomore Matthew McElveen in the second, and the fourth-and-1 hold at the end of the game. All were crucial in the win and in maintaining momentum for the Bucs..
Up Next: The Bucs (1-0) take on Robert Toombs (0-1) on the road Friday night.