The Briarwood Buccaneers ran into what you'd expect from the top AAA team in the state in GISA football when they suffered a 38-0 defeat at the hands of Riverside Military Academy last Friday in Gainesville.
"We'll be a better football team for the experience," Coach Jimmy Barnett said of the Bucs, who have an open date this Friday. "We will not see anyone better than them, even in a state championship game. They have it all - more size, more strength, more speed, more quickness - boys who can run the ball, boys who can throw the ball, boys who can catch the ball, boys who can kick the ball. They can kick 40- to 50-yard field goals, and they kicked off into the end of the end zone every time."
Briarwood's Joseph Batrous makes a run.
Riverside also has an intimidation factor that helps, according to Coach Barnett, who said the school's facilities are better than those of most small colleges.
"They dress out 80, which is pretty intimidating right there. Then they bring out a 70-piece band and march 400 cadets in platoons across the field."
The Bucs played well, according to Coach Barnett, who said the Bucs had 13 first downs to Riverside's 14 first downs.
Riverside scored first to take a very early 7-0 lead, but the Bucs immediately came back with a 72-yard drive, only to lose the ball on the eight-yard line.
"They had him (the Bucs 200+ lb. fullback Tyler Wester) up in the air and ripped the ball out of his hands," Coach Barnett said. "They're taught to strip that ball."
Briarwood's Chris Gerlach comes down with an interception against Riverside.
Riverside scored two more touchdowns in the first half for a 21-0 lead, but it was the final first half TD that "broke the backs" of the Bucs. With one second left before the half, the Riverside quarterback threw a 43-yard TD pass.
"It was one of those perfect plays," Coach Barnett said. "There wasn't a thing we could do about it. It wasn't bad play on our part; it was just excellent, excellent play on their part."
Riverside added to their 28-0 halftime lead in the second half by scoring a touchdown and a PAT and kicking a field goal for an eventual 38-0 win.
The Bucs spent much of the game passing with quarterback David Russell throwing 21 times for 116 yards.
"They threw the all over the field and did very well," Coach Barnett said. "We keep adding to our throwing game. "It's not there yet, but it's getting better."
Receivers Kyle Ewest, Joseph Batrous and Chris Gerlach are doing a great job as pass receivers, Coach Barnett says.
Briarwood's Tyler Wester cuts around the corner.
It's the Bucs' running game that hasn't gelled.
"Our rushing game has yet to come in, but I'm close to finding the combination," Coach Barnett said. "It looks like it's going to be Chris Gerlach, Tyler Wester, and Jacob Gay. We'll work Joseph Batrous in some, but he's doing such a good job catching the ball; we're going to leave him out there."
Ewest was named Offensive Player of the Week for catching the football "extremely well and in a lot of traffic." Ewest made "three critical catches" for 51 yards.
Gerlach was named the Defensive Player of the Week for his pass coverage of "those great wide receivers." Gerlach also intercepted a pass to stop a drive.
Coach Barnett also praised Hughlon Mays for his pass coverage.
"He did an unbelievable job, especially to be just a sophomore," Coach Barnett said.
After this week's open date on Friday night, the Bucs will play host to John Hancock Academy of Sparta on Friday, Oct. 7.
Briarwood 0, Riverside 38
Star of the game: Kyle Ewest was the Offensive Player of the Game and Chris Gerlach was the Defensive Player of the Game.
Play of the game: Against a team that dressed out nearly 80 players, Briarwood was able to move the ball, especially in the air. Quarterback David Russell threw for 116 yards.
Up Next: Briarwood is off a week before playing host to John Hancock on Oct. 7.