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Briarwood Academy has big plans

The Briarwood Academy Buccaneers have big intentions this year.

They no longer want to settle just for making the state playoffs. Instead, players think it's time they claimed another state title for their school.

Briarwood Head Coach John Osborne admits that would be the ultimate goal, but from a more realistic perspective he'd be pleased if his team gets through the second round of the playoffs.

"I really think that would be a huge accomplishment for this team, but obviously we'll take a state title over what I think, if they can pull it off," he with a big smile.

In his first season at the helm last year, Osborne's team finished with a 6-5 record. The team went on to play in the first-round of the GISA Class A State Playoffs before being eliminated.

"My team seems real focused this season," Osborne said. "Everyone is like a close-knit family. Everyone seems to understand what their roles are. And a lot of times that's hard for teenagers to understand. It's different with these players."

Take those who play the offensive line, for example.

"Those linemen understand they must block correctly in order for us to win," Osborne said. "This team listens very well. They are very coachable."

He's observed something else special about his team: "No one wants to mess up. They get down when they mess up. But that's just part of learning. Still, it shows that they are dedicated and committed to doing the best at all times. Knowing they are putting that sort of effort into what they do as football players really says a lot about their characters."

Osborne said he is pleased his players are putting their heart and soul into playing football. He has told them in the past, "If you don't, you'll be able to tell as a player."

This year, the Bucs will look different. The graduation of Chase Walker left a void at quarterback.

The position has been filled by Blake Sowell, who will lead the double Wing-T offense.

The Bucs are fortunate in that they have several key players returning. Two of them include Trey Stadler and Matthew McElveen, both seniors. They will play on both sides of the football.

Stadler, a big-time playmaker in the past, is being counted on again this season to fit that same mold.

"He's a playmaker, and we're going to have to find ways to get the ball in his hands as much as we can," Osborne said.

The same is true when it comes to McElveen, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards and scored 17 touchdowns last season.

The Bucs have a sophomore who is making his presence known quickly: Michael Kent, who will play wingback. Recently during a scrimmage against John Milledge Academy, Kent rambled for a long touchdown run as the Bucs put on an impressive showing.

Other players at key positions include: Steven Gunn, a junior center; Russell Burdett, a sophomore right guard; Adam Hardy, a senior right tackle; Saul Smith, a senior tight end; Eric Johnson, a senior left guard; Tyler Edwards, a junior left tackle; and Carson Wiley, a senior split end.

Defensively, the Bucs who play a 5-2 set, will include Will Souther, a sophomore nose guard; Adam Hardy, tackle; Steven Gunn, tackle; Trey Stadler, defensive end; Eric Johnson, defensive end; Michael Kent, linebacker; Sol Smith, linebacker; Carson Wiley, corner back; Ryan Nelson, corner back; Matthew McElveen, safety; and Dalton Reese, safety.

Briarwood Academy opens its season by playing host to the Edmund Burke Academy Spartans on Aug. 28. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

Web posted on Thursday, August 20, 2009

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