The Bradwell Institute Tigers will take on Region 3-AAAAA top seed Ware County at 7:30 tonight at Olvey Field.
The Gators have only one loss this season: a 21-14 defeat to Coffee County in the first game of the year. Sporting a 7-1 overall record, the Waycross team has a clean 5-0 region mark and is ranked No. 36 in the state out of all classifications, according to maxpreps.com.
That’s a tall order for the Tigers (1-7 overall, 1-4 in region) to take on.
But Brad-well coach Jim Walsh said his team hasn’t really battled tough opponents as much as it has battled itself this year.
“I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but we have been our own worst enemy,” he said. “If we could just settle down and play, we would give ourselves a chance. But too many mental mistakes kill us. Turnovers, penalties, busted assignments … it is easy to fix if it stems from the same player — you pull them out of the game. But when it’s constantly happening from different kids … you can’t pull everybody.”
Last week, Richmond Hill rushed for 205 yards and threw for 84 against the Tigers to win, 49-0.
The Tigers’ offense turned the ball over twice on fumbles and twice on interceptions, which kept them from putting points on the board.
Walsh said they shifted a few offensive players to defense at the start of the season, thinking they needed to slow down opposing offenses.
“And we’ve struggled offensively as a result of that,” he said.
Walsh said they have moved a few veteran players back to offense, but he still has to start freshmen and sophomores.
“Our kids have played hard for us, and they will play hard Friday night,” he said. “We have opportunities, and sometimes we just let them slip through our fingers.”
Walsh said the Gators are bringing athletes who also have some pretty good speed.
Tiger defenders Jordan Portley, Quonte Haggray, Greg Roman and Khalil Harris continue to lead in tackles with 58, 39, 40 and 26 respectively. Harris notched two tackles for loss against Richmond Hill, forced two fumbles and had a sack.
Walsh won’t be on the sidelines tonight for BI after he was ejected Oct. 26 from the Richmond Hill game for arguing a call in the third period.
A win for Bradwell will set the pace for the final game of the year Nov. 9, when it hosts a so-far winless Groves squad.
That night, the Tigers will honor their seniors with a special ceremony. Also, former Tiger and National Football League player Gary Guyton will attend to have his high-school jersey number retired.