After hanging on last Friday for a 27-24 victory over John Hancock Academy in Sparta, the Briarwood Buccaneers are looking forward to this Friday night's Homecoming match up with Region 1AA foe Gatewood School.
The Bucs, now 3-4 for the season, will play their second region game of the year against Gatewood, also 3-4 for the season and back in the Bucs' region after a two-year absence.
"We're going to have a good contest here Friday night," Coach Jimmy Barnett said. "They've got a complete new system, new offense and new defense. They run multiple offenses with a lot of options and a lot of wing, and they do a good job. They show you a lot of looks, and they're going to try to confuse you. They can give you some headaches.
"Defensively, they run a wide tackle six," Coach Barnett said. "We like to live off the run, and the wide tackle six is designed to shut the run down."
Gatewood suffered a 27-0 loss to region leader Edmund Burke Academy last Friday night in Waynesboro. That loss, plus the fact that Gatewood with its long-time, sometimes bitter, rivalry with Briarwood would like nothing better than to spoil the Bucs' homecoming, is going to provide extra incentive for the Gators, according to Coach Barnett.
"I'm a little worried," he said.
Last week's game against John Hancock also provided a few worry lines.
"We ran into what you historically run into at John Hancock," Coach Barnett said of last Friday night's win in Sparta. "It doesn't matter if they're down 100-0 or 3-0, they don't ever give up."
Last Friday night was no exception. With the Bucs up 21-0 midway through the third, John Hancock scored their first touchdown and then proceeded to chip away at the Bucs' lead until the game ended with Briarwood ahead by only three.
"A win's a win. It doesn't matter what the score is," Coach Barnett said, adding that the first score was made on the second team.
"It doesn't bother me if someone scores on our second team because they're still learning," Coach Barnett said, "but they scored on our first defense, too. I don't feel like they should have been able to do that. We let up, and you can't let up. This team hasn't had any big leads, and so we didn't know how to protect that one."
Additionally, Hancock played without their quarterback, the best player on their team, according to Coach Barnett.
The Bucs started Friday night's game with running back Joseph Batrous at quarterback rather than David Russell who has handled the position all season.
Ý"I've said since the beginning that we have and need at least two quarterbacks, and I felt like it was time to give him (Batrous) a chance," Coach Barnett said. "He did a fine job. We need two quarterbacks and both are going to play."
Senior tackle B. J. Thompson played "a particularly good offensive game," Coach Barnett said. "He made some excellent blocks."
In another move, junior Dustin Pilgrim played free safety for the Bucs.
"He gives a lot of effort, and he's got some speed," Coach Barnett said. "I think he's earned a lot more playing time."
Batrous scored the Bucs' first touchdown in the first quarter on a 17-yard quarterback sweep. Batrous set up his own touchdown when he tipped up a pass and intercepted it on the Hancock 40-yard line. Senior Burt Goolsby kicked the extra point for a 7-0 first quarter lead.
Goolsby scored the Bucs' second touchdown in the second on a four-yard quick pitch around the end. The kick failed and the Bucs held a 13-0 lead at the half.
Goolsby scored again in the third on an inside trap when he broke to the outside for a 30-yard touchdownrun. Batrous hit senior Steven Sparks on a slant pattern in the end zone for the two-point conversion and a 21-0 lead. Senior Jason Holley kicked off and the Rebels fumbled. Senior Al Dudley recovered on the 18. On the first play from scrimmage, Batrous scored on an 18-yard option around the end. The two-point conversion attempt failed, and the Bucs led 27-0.
Late in the third, Hancock scored their first touchdownon a long pass play. The Rebels made the two-point conversion to cut the Bucs' lead to 27-8
With the Bucs still ahead 27-8 at the beginning of the fourth, the Rebels scored early after recovering a fumble on the Bucs' 25. Again, they converted for two. With the score at 27-16, the Rebels tried an onside kick, which failed. The Bucs, after a short drive, were forced to punt. Goolsby's 50-yard punt rolled into the end zone, giving the ball to Hancock on the 20 with 2:15 left in the game. On the first play from scrimmage, a Hancock back went outside for 80 yards and a score. They added the two-point conversion, and the Bucs led by only three, 27-24. Once again, Hancock tried an onside kick, but luck was with the Bucs. The kick hit one of the Rebel players, and the Bucs took over at midfield. The Bucs needed only a couple of first downs to run the clock out and win the game.
Goolsby earned Offensive Player of the Week honors, scoring two touchdowns and gaining 130 yards on 12 carries. Goolsby also went 56 yards on the opening kickoff.
Batrous also scored two touchdowns, and he gained 42 yards on 11 carries. He was three-of-four passing for another 35 yards.
Holley earned Defensive Player of the Week honors with 12 tackles. Jeffrey Kent, David Russell and Dustin Pilgrim each had six tackles.