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Briarwood Academy will face some tough opponents

It's high school football season again.

And such has been evident for the past several weeks at Briarwood Academy, as players and coaches alike ready for upcoming battles on the gridiron.

A year ago, the Buccaneers made it all the way to the semi-final round of the Georgia Independent Schools Association Class A football playoffs. They ended up finishing fourth, overall.

"We had a great season last year and we're hoping to build on that this year," says Briarwood Academy football head coach John Osborne.

Coach Osborne, who is in his third year as football head coach and athletic director, says he's looking forward to the start of the season.

"We've been waiting for our first game for a while now, but it's about to be here," said coach Osborne.

This Friday night, his Buccaneers travel to Waynesboro for the traditional season opener against the Edmund Burke Academy's Spartans.

The game between the Buccaneers and Spartans is dubbed The Backyard Battle.

For the past two seasons, Edmund Burke Academy has defeated Briarwood Academy on the football field.

But this year, coach Osborne is hoping his team will be ready for the challenge and end that two-year drought by prevailing victorious.

"Edmund Burke is going to be a tough opponent to open up against," said coach Osborne "I just hope we'll be ready to take them on."

Edmund Burke Academy a Georgia Independent Schools Association (GISA) Class AA school, while Briarwood Academy is a GISA Class A school.

The Spartans have 38 players on their football team, while the Buccaneers have only 20 varsity football players.

"We started out with 20 players this summer and that's what we've ended up with," said coach Osborne. "I guess that's pretty good since we're such a small school."

Like was the case last year, the schedule won't be a breeze. The Buccaneers will again be playing some tough opponents.

Before their region slate ever starts, Briarwood plays three Class AA schools in a row. It starts off with Edmund Burke Academy, then Brentwood Academy and Piedmont Academy.

"My goal is to get through these first three games without any injuries," said coach Osborne. "We don't have a lot of depth and experience is a factor, too."

In the region, things just seem to get tougher.

"We've got another real tough region schedule this year," said coach Osborne. "Thomas Jefferson Academy and Memorial Day of Savannah will be two of our toughest opponents in our region."

Memorial Day came down in classification this year after being a Class AA team and winning the state championship last year.

"Several other teams have the potential to be good this year, too," said coach Osborne.

Two of the teams he mentioned in that category are Curtis Baptist of Augusta and David Emanuel Academy.

"Our region will be a dogfight," said coach Osborne. "We're going to have to be prepared for that fight."

Coach Osborne said he had been pleased with the performance in practices and scrimmage games of both his first and second teams.

"They're worked hard and done everything we've asked of them, so far," he said. "I'm real pleased with our second team. They have done an excellent job. I'm really proud of how they've come in and helped us out."

The second team is made up of all freshmen and sophomores.

Blake Sowell is returning for his second season as starting quarterback. Now a senior, Sowell says he's ready to lead the Buccaneers back to the state playoffs.

Several other players also are expected to have big seasons at Briarwood Academy this season. They include: Steven Gunn, a senior, who will play both center and defensive lineman; Tyler Edwards, a senior who will play left tackle; and Russell Burdett, a senior, who will play left guard.

"We're going to be counting on all three of those offensive linemen a lot this season," said coach Osborne. "They did us a fine job last year and we're hoping they're ready to do the same again this year."

The Buccaneers also will be in need of the services of fleet-footed running back Michael Kent, a junior. Kent runs the 40-yard dash in an impressive time of 4.6 seconds, according to coach Osborne.

"Michael has a lot of natural ability," added the head mentor. "He's a big threat because of his speed. He's explosive.

Web posted on Thursday, August 26, 2010

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