The Messenger's sports reporter Brandon Bush gives his take on the Gatewood football team
The Gators look good again.
After a disappointing season opener against a hungry John Milledge Academy team during which Gatewood was defeated by its rival, 45-7, the Gators have recovered to put together a pretty solid season thus far. If it wasn’t evident by their 43-0 dismantling of Trinity Christian-Dublin, it was definitely reinforced by their 29-12 victory over a tough Brentwood team.
I remember from my time playing for JMA years ago that Brentwood is a hard place to play in. The Eagle faithful always come out in droves to support the team, and I was on the receiving end of many Brentwood wins that should not have been Brentwood wins.
With that in mind, the Gators’ recent win is another step in the right direction.
Many of the mistakes that held them back against the Trojans had drastically improved over the past two weeks. The option offense is now humming and Gatewood is controlling the ball while also forcing turnovers and bringing up third and fourth downs for most series.
The Gators still have some things to work on, however, such as not giving up turnovers too easily. Gatewood had several drives stalled due to lost fumbles, so ball control is something that’s really going to be important to work on in practice.
However, Gatewood is generally not showing very many signs of hangover from week one. I mentioned last week that it says a lot to come back from a 45-7 loss to win 43-0 the next week, but a solid win against a tough team on the road says even more.
It was good to see Luke Haley on the field last Friday. He’s only a sophomore, and yet he’s already off to a strong start as the leader of the Gator offense.
He had some long breakaways during the game and picked up two rushing touchdowns. Along with fullback Yale Stapp, who also found the end zone a couple of times that night, Haley got the Gator offense moving just as Reid Sasser and Brandon Belans did last year.
While the Gators were glad to see Haley return from concussion-like symptoms, however, they may have to deal with another player with the same issue as running back John Decker left the game with similar symptoms. I didn’t hear anything else about Decker’s condition as of Monday morning but, similar to Haley, he is a tough kid and I’m sure he will be back next week if not this one.
Gatewood has a unique challenge ahead of it this week when it hosts Community Christian in the Swamp. Community Christian belongs to the GICAA and has won the state championship in that league the past two years consecutively. It currently sits at 3-1 on the season.
Gatewood, currently 2-1, will have a chance to secure a victory over a two-time champion if it keeps trending in the right direction. As long as the young players continue to mature and grow, the offense keeps humming along, the defense continues to make big plays and turnovers are reduced, the Gators will keep moving and, eventually, reach the standard of excellence they’ve set for themselves over the past two seasons
Putnam County was off last week, so I will return to Al Reaves Field this Friday to see the War Eagles host the Rabun County Wildcats. Last year, I made the long trip up to Rabun County to, unfortunately for them, watch the War Eagles get beat pretty bad, 59-0.
Rabun went on to be the GHSA Class AA runner-up last year but only sits at 2-1 so far. This would be a great statement win as well as sweet vengeance if the Eagles can make the best out of the extra practice time they had before their region opener.
It should be another fun Friday this week. Best of luck to our two teams.