There’s no easing into the season with a scrimmage for Frederica Academy.
The Friday before the Knights open the 2017 football season against Parklane Academy (Miss.) in the Southeastern Conference of Independent Schools Kickoff at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., head coach Brandon Derrick gave his team the day off.
Frederica’s focus this offseason has been conditioning. The roster is small, in numbers and physical stature. Frederica’s squad is saturated with speed. If the Knights more closely resemble a fleet of sports cars on a barge in St. Simons Sound, not a posse of lifted trucks parked outside its stadium before games.
If you can’t out-lift them, outrun them.
Derrick blocks off time after every practice for conditioning. His team is built on several two-way players, guys who play both offense and defense.
Derrick said he also tabled a traditional preseason scrimmage in an effort to save his team’s legs for what projects to be a grueling season for players set to spend most of the coming games on the field.
“We wanted to get our legs back under us,” Derrick said. “I like to scrimmage, but you wear yourself out trying to do too much.”
So Frederica’s game on Aug. 11 in Montgomery will be the first time the Knights line up across from an opponent in a game-like situation.
Parklane Academy is coming off a 5-6 season in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, where it was bounced from the first round of the MAIS AAA playoffs by its district rival Copiah Academy.
Derrick said the Pioneers are returning a large senior class and average approximately 250 pounds on the offensive line. They’ll operate with an offensive style that Derrick calls “elevator football,” double tight ends with lots of downhill running.
“They are way bigger,” said junior running back Isaiah Jackson. “But I feel like we have a chance. They may be bigger but we’re faster. We’re more conditioned. If we stick to the game plan (we can win).”
The whole ordeal of an out-of-state road trip against an out-of-state team came about when Georgia Christian School left GISA to join GICCA. The opening on Frederica’s schedule left an opportunity for a ceremonious opening game in a large stadium in a foreign environment.
It’s the kind of game teams gear up for, to prove they can not only be the best in the state, but one of the best in the country.
But the Knights are excited, Derrick said, just because it’s the start of the season.
“They’ll be up for it because it’s the opening game,” Derrick said. “I think our kids are excited to play. They get to go on the road and stay overnight. I gradually try to get our guys ready for that, because we want to be in that situation in Macon (for the state championship). I don’t want it to be new to us.”