Coming off an impressive 14-6 win over AAA John Milledge Academy, the Briarwood Buccaneers will take on AA powerhouse Tiftarea Academy this Friday in Chula.
Tiftarea, who was ranked number one in the state in GISA AA ball when the season began, has an impressive team, according to Briarwood coach Jimmy Barnett.
While the Bucs were upsetting John Milledge last Friday, Tiftarea was upsetting AAA powerhouse Mt. De Sales Academy 19-18 in Macon. Now 3-2 for the season, Tiftarea lost games to AAA Deerfield-Windsor Academy and Pinecrest Academy, a member of the Bucs' Region 1AA.
"They throw the ball," Coach Barnett said. "They've got a good quarterback and good receivers. Size-wise, they're not as big as they usually are, but they have skilled people."
The Bucs upped their season record to 3-1-1 with their win last week.
"Overall, it was a great, great effort, probably one of the most solid team efforts I've ever had," Coach Barnett said.
The Bucs suffered a loss last week when lineman Jonathan Gay tore his ACL. Gay will be out for a number of weeks, possibly the season, according to Coach Barnett.
"Gay played as well as I've ever seen a sophomore play," Coach Barnett said, adding that Gay played both offense and defense.
The game with John Milledge was a standoff until well into the first quarter when a Trojan recovered a "bobbled" Buc snap and scored the game's first TD. The Trojans missed the extra point for a 6-0 lead with only 17 seconds left in the first.
The Bucs opened the second quarter with a short drive after the kickoff, which was stopped by the Trojans' second interception of the game on the Bucs' 40-yard line. The Bucs held, but a good punt by the Trojans left the Bucs to begin their drive on their own 16-yard line. Senior fullback Jacob Gay went up the middle for four yards to the Bucs' 22. On the second play of the series, senior halfback Joseph Batrous swept around the left end - 80 yards for the score.
"He outran the whole (Trojan) team," Coach Barnett said. "They could just about touch him, but they couldn't catch him."
Senior Chris Gerlach kicked the extra point to put the Bucs up 7-6 with 7:25 left in the second quarter.
John Milledge took the kickoff with five minutes left in the second quarter and drove down to the Bucs' 35-yard line. On third down, the Trojan quarterback passed to his receiver at the Bucs' 10-yard line. Gerlach went up with the Trojan and came back down with the ball to end the Trojans' scoring drive.
Neither team was able to dominate in the third, but as the quarter drew to a close, Buc punter Cane Gilmer's kicks began to push the Trojans closer to their own goal line.
With 6:27 left in the game, the Bucs fumbled the ball away to the Trojans on the Trojan 29-yard line. On the next play, senior Kyle Ewest delivered a blow to the Trojan halfback that parted him from the ball. On the Trojans' 26-yard line, Ewest recovered the fumble he had caused.
Batrous picked up 10 yards on a sweep to the 16-yard line, followed by Jacob Gay who gained four yards and then six yards straight up the middle. With the ball on the 6 yard line, the Bucs ran a play "that you don't see everyday.
"We showed them a pass formation, one that we usually throw out of. Then, we ran a quarterback sweep, and (quarterback David Russell) just walked into the end zone," Coach Barnett said.
Gerlach kicked the extra point for a 14-6 lead. The Bucs held onto the lead for the win.
The Bucs amassed 208 yards in total team offense, 35 in the air, catching three of 11 passes, and 177 on the ground on 29 rushes.
Batrous led the Bucs on the ground with 101 yards on eight rushes.
Defensively, the Bucs were led by Jacob Gay with nine tackles and five assists, Batrous with nine tackles and four assists, Russell with seven tackles and five assists, and John Spivey with seven tackles and two assists.
Jacob Gay registered two sacks. Spivey and Mathew Graziano each had one sack.
Ewest caused a fumble and recovered two.
Gilmer averaged 38 yards punting on five punts, one punt for 45 yards, one punt for 38 yards, two punts for 31 yards, and one touchback.
Briarwood 14, John Milledge 6
Star of the Game: Buccaneer senior Joseph Batrous scored Briarwood's first touchdown of the game on an 80-yard sweep around left end.
Play of the Game: Briarwood senior Chris Gerlach intercepted a John Milledge pass on the Buccaneer 10 yard line, as the Trojans were driving to score right before the end of the first half.
Up next: The Buccaneers will travel to to take on the Tiftarea Panthers (3-2).