Brantley's Anthony Gulley
It is probably not news that Sweet Water (11-1) is the favorite in this game, but some things make Brantley (12-0) just as big a threat Friday night. Both coaches have spectacular records. In just the last five years, Sweet Water’s Stacy Luker is 69-10 while David Lowery is 72-7.
The last meeting between the two Bulldog teams was in 2005, and Brantley was the host in the second round of the playoffs. The hometown Bulldogs came away with a 30-13 victory. They advanced to the finals where they lost to Addison.
Sweet Water rolls east this year with junior running back Johnny Lockett (5-9, 185) who has rushed for 1,570 yards this season. Lockett has scored four touchdowns on kickoff returns as well.
They face a Brantley team that boasts the outstanding senior athlete, Anthony Gulley (5-11, 180). Gulley has rushed for 1,168 yards on 58 carries playing in only nine games this season.
The dual baseball all-star and ASWA All-State honorable mention can break a team’s back. He has caught 500 yards worth of passes this season, and like Lockett has scored six special teams touchdowns.
The back recently received his first scholarship offer, and it was a big one, from Auburn University.
“He was offered last weekend when he went over there,” Coach Lowery confirmed to ScoutSouth.com on Friday morning.
Lowery’s more immediate concern is his team’s date with the 1A reigning champion, but he realizes that Gulley will get a lot of attention as well.
“I think we know going in that somebody besides Anthony has got to step up and make plays," Lowery said. "I think they are going to try and locate where he is on every play, but we have got to find ways to get him the ball in space and give him a chance.”
Brantley’s junior quarterback and strong leader is Chase Hall (6-2, 155). He returned to the team after an injury took him out of action for a few weeks. He will look for the sturdy junior receiver, Tory Upshaw (6-1, 195). Stephen Walker is Brantley’s other running back (6-2, 185) and linebacker.
“Stephen Walker has got to be one to make plays for us,” Lowery said. “Tory Upshaw has got to make plays for us. We have got to be able to throw the ball well with Chase Hall (6-2, 155)."
"It’s a challenge, but we’ve got a lot of kids that play hard, and hopefully they will step up to the challenge.”
Gulley, Hall and Walker have each been named as an Army Iron Man in separate weeks this year for their play.
Gulley was honored for his week-two performance against Providence Chrisitian. His 328 all-purpose yards led his team to a 48-8 victory. Hall picked two interceptions in week four and rushed for 101 yards and two scores in the 51-16 win over Ariton. Walker received his honor in week 10 in a 26-24 win over Daleville. He rushed for 101 yards, recorded 10 tackles, and blocked a field goal with seconds remaining to seal the game.
Coach Lowery knows what he’s up against with Sweet Water, and a defense that only allows 88 yards per game total offense and a stingy seven points while scoring 51 points.
We asked coach Lowery if he will implement any changes he might have picked up from Leroy’s win over Sweet Water to end the regular season 28-21.
“I don’t think we can go back and change what we’ve done all year,” Lowery said. “We’ve got to do what we do really well this week. If we start trying to change everything I think we confuse our kids more than we help them, and we need to just give them a chance to play.”
“We’ve just got to give our kids a chance and put them in some good situations, and hopefully we will make some plays.”
“There’s no doubt we’re the underdog.”
When asked if he likes that unusual role, “No doubt,” he answered. “The kids know we’re the underdog, the coaches know it, everybody in the state knows we’re the underdog."
"They have won a state championship three of the last four years, and anyone that plays them is an underdog. Until someone beats them, they are the champs, so we’ll use that to try to motivate our kids. You don’t have to say a lot to motivate kids this time of year.”
Defensively, what will Brantley need to do have a good game.
“A lot of these guys are on offense too,” Lowery replied. “But one that is not is Cameron Wright (Jr. 5-11, 180), and he’s had a really good year for us. He has been one of our standouts, one of our leading tacklers.”
“Jared Hall (Jr. 5-10, 220) has had a really good year. He will certainly be tested this week against the Wing-T offense."
"Austin Mitchell (Jr. 6-1, 265) is one of our defensive linemen that has had a great year for us. Defensive back Cassius Tillis (Soph. 5-7, 130) is going to have to have a good night because they will lull you to sleep with their running game and then hurt you with the pass as well."
"Our secondary has got to pay attention to detail this week also. All of these guys are going to have to play well. If we have three or four play well that is not going to be good enough to beat them.”
We asked Lowery what the atmosphere around the town has been like this week.
“I don’t think we are going to have any trouble selling tickets,” Lowery said. “Coach Luker said this week that they have sold a lot of tickets. I think it is going to be a great crowd and the kind of atmosphere you want for playoff football. It’s what it’s all about.”
One thing the Sweet Water fans will not find at this game is extra seating. The Brantley staff decided to stay with what they have at Bulldog Stadium, so there should be a standing room only crowd. It could be the first defensive play of the night.
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