The GISA football playoff format was changed this season, and it couldn’t have worked out better for Frederica Academy.

The Knights (7-3, 4-0) won the Region 2-3A championship and earned a bye as a No. 1 seed.

Head football coach Brandon Derrick said the bye week will help players who have been nursing injuries continue to recover.

“I think we’ll get three or four players back by the end of the week,” he said.

Derrick said he plans to use the off week to work on fundamentals with his team while they await the winner of the first-round playoff game featuring Valwood and Augusta Prep.

The Knights have played both teams this season, losing to Valwood 7-6 in an overtime slugfest on Aug. 24 and beating Augusta Prep 44-13 on Sept. 14. Those scores are meaningless going into the playoffs because of the unpredictability of the playoffs.

Derrick said he is preparing game plans for both teams and isn’t going to expect he will be facing the Valwood team that beat them earlier this year and knocked the Knights out of the playoffs last year in the state semifinal game.

Hosting a playoff game is important because it saves the team from having to play on the road in a hostile environment and the home fan support will help motivate the team.

“It’s going to be huge for us,” he said.

That’s not to mean Derrick is confident home field advantage will mean a win next week. This season, the Knights are 3-3 at home and 4-0 on the road.

“I don’t know if it helps us or hurts us,” he said.

The seven-year old football program has had Derrick as head coach the past six years. He said the goal when he took over was to have his team compete against some of the state’s top football programs and win.

“Our goal is always to be successful,” he said. “You hope to build a winning program and sustain it.”

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