The Briarwood Buccaneers are looking forward to their match up with Monroe Academy of Forsyth this Friday at Briarwood in the first round of GISA AA state playoffs.
The Bucs are moving past a dismal 39-20 regular season-ending loss to Brentwood School last Friday night in Sandersville, a loss which sends the Bucs into the playoffs as the number two rather than the number one seed from Region 1AA.
As the number two finisher in Region 1AA, the Bucs are paired in the first round of playoffs with the number three finisher in Region 4, Monroe. As the top ranked team, the Bucs receive home field advantage.
The winner of the Bucs/Monroe game will face the winner of the Pinewood Christian School (top finisher in Region 2)/Valwood Academy (fourth place finisher in Region 3) on Friday, Nov. 18, in the second round of AA playoffs. Home field advantage will go to the team entering the game ranked the highest in their region.
Monroe is a passing team, and "that worries me," Coach Jimmy Barnett said, noting that Brentwood really racked up the passing yardage against the Bucs.
"They throw the ball very well, and that worries me about Monroe, because that seems to give us a problem," Coach Barnett said, adding that Monroe has one "quick back" they use to keep the defenders "honest."
"It was a nightmare," Coach Barnett said of the mistake-riddled region championship game with Brentwood in which the Bucs committed six turnovers and several critical penalties. "It seems every year you have a game in which you can't get a break. That was one of those where everything went wrong.
"They got us down, and they pinned us," Coach Barnett said. "We battled uphill all night long."
There were some positives, according to Coach Barnett, who said the Bucs "have seen championship football" and now know what to expect.
Two years ago, the roles were reversed. At Briarwood, the Bucs beat Brentwood 41-24 in another battle for the region championship. Then, Brentwood, who entered the playoffs as the number two seed, went on to win the state championship.
Coach Barnett said he's looking for a repeat of the role reversal from 2003.
Last Friday, it was the Bucs that struck first, scoring when quarterback David Russell hit Joseph Batrous on a deep out pattern for a 60 yard TD. However, Briarwood missed the extra point.
Brentwood answered immediately, taking the kickoff and driving downfield to score. The Eagles kicked the extra point to take a 7-6 lead.
Brentwood then scored 20 unanswered points, taking advantage of "squib kicks" and Briarwood turnovers.
Briarwood finally got back on the scoreboard with about two minutes left in the game.
The Bucs ran a few plays on the ground before Russell threw to Kyle Ewest for a 30-yard gain to the 50-yard line. The Eagles were called for roughing the passer, and the Bucs got another 15 yards to the Eagles 35. Ewest caught a 15-yard pass to the Eagles' 20. Batrous and Chris Gerlach moved the ball to the 3-yard line on two sweep plays to set up a 3-yard TD pass from Russell to Dave Joesbury. Russell threw to Batrous for the two-point conversion.
With very few seconds left on the clock before the half, the Bucs had cut the Eagles' lead to 12 points, 26-14.
The Eagles took the second half kickoff and spent a leisurely seven minutes running time off the clock before scoring from the one-yard line. They failed to make the PAT, but went up 32-14 with about 5:00 left in the third.
The Bucs weren't out of it. Jacob Gay took the Eagles' kickoff on the Buc 20-yard line and ran it back 60 yards to the Eagles' 20-yard line.
Russell hit Tyler Wester on a 20-yard pass for the score. The PAT failed, leaving the score at 32-20.
Coach Barnett named junior Joseph Batrous the Offensive Player of the Week for his 60-yard TD pass reception in the first quarter. Senior Jason Dunham was named the Defensive Player of the Week for his consistently outstanding play at tackle.
Briarwood 20, Brentwood 39
Star of the game: Joseph Batrous was named Offensive Player of the Game and Jason Dunham was named the Defensive Player of the Game.
Play of the game: The story of the game for the Bucs was turnovers. Briarwood committed six against Brentwood.
Up Next: Briarwood opens the playoffs at home Friday night against Monroe Academy. Game time is 7:30 p.m.