Glynn Academy (2-2) takes on Brunswick High (4-0) in the City Championship game at Glynn County Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Getting a week off for a lot of individual and skill work, head coach Rocky Hidalgo found the bye week to be helpful to get players that hadn’t played in high school or since middle schools the chance to develop before region play began.
“Trying to teach them where to go is the big issue but also teaching them what to do and how to do things,” Hidalgo said. “We spent a lot of time teaching individual and skill work, trying to improve some basic fundamentals that we are just behind on because we are so inexperienced. Last week was really about us and trying to get better at doing some basic fundamental things, footwork stance, our hand placement, our pad level. All of those things we have to get better.”
Putting the Border Classic game against Creekside — where the team lost 21-20 — behind them, Hidalgo said the bye week mainly focused on fixing mistakes from the Creekside game. They did watch film of Brunswick High and break down things to get ready for the City Championship.
Hidalgo knows what’s at stake. The winner not only gets to claim the City Championship trophy for a year, but gets the leg up on the race for the Region 2-6A title.
“Whoever wins this game will have a leg up in the region,” Hidalgo said. “It’s a home playoff game on the line, region championship is on the line. I mean those are big deals. Look, if someone from Atlanta has to come on a bus and travel down five hours here that’s a huge advantage. That is probably worth 10 points in a playoff game. We need all the points we can get in a playoff game when those guys come down here. Going out and playing well and representing our school and the community is really important. Even more, we want to win this game because it’s a region game and we have them and Effingham County back-to-back, probably the two best teams in the region.
“The region championship is probably going to be settled in the next three weeks here because of that. We have to make sure we play well. Sustained effort for 48 minutes. We can’t get lost in all of the other bologna that comes with this game about all of the social media stuff and people running their mouths. We got to focus on our performance and how we play. I think that is the most important. The kids have to be mature about that, you can get lost in all of that other stuff and major on the minor and the things that aren’t going to help you win that game. So, from our perspective we want to focus on the Glynn Academy Red Terrors, our effort, our game plan and go out and perform the best we possibly can to play. That’s what I’m looking for. Let’s go out and play for 48 minutes and see what happens.”
Facing Brunswick High, a team that’s averaging 27 points a game and 289.5 yards a game, Hidalgo is aware of the prolific players that the Pirates have on both sides of the ball.
“They have a good football team,” Hidalgo said. “They have some dynamic players on both sides of the ball. Guys that create some plays. They have a guy nicknamed ‘Touchdown’. Anytime you have a guy nicknamed touchdown that’s usually not a fat kid who can run. He is scary, he is really scary. It doesn’t matter where he gets the football, he is really hard to handle and we have to do a great job of containing him. You have to tackle in space against them because all of those guys are ball guys. They are all athletic kids and they can turn a small gain into a touchdown. Defensively, we have to finish on the ball well. If you get two guys outside the ball and two inside the ball, they have running backs that will make you pay for it.”
‘Touchdown’ as Hidalgo referred to him is junior wideout Terry Mitchell. In less than two years of varsity action as a Pirate, Mitchell has totaled 1,310 all purpose yards and 10 total touchdowns. In the teams most recent game against Islands, Mitchell had three catches for 123 yards and three touchdowns.
Other players on the offensive side of the ball that can cause havoc are quarterback Jarrod Elkins, running backs Ivan Johnson and William Heck as well as wideouts Jayden Drayton and Kevin Thomas.
“We are going to have to play great team defense, read our keys and tackle in space,” Hidalgo said. “We have to make them work for it and not give up easy touchdowns. Other teams have done that. Bolles had great opportunities in that game and missed opportunities. Camden as well. I don’t know if we are as good as those teams but we will find out on Friday. We got to elevate our performance and go after them and be aggressive and attack those guys. We can’t just sit back and go ‘Well they are really good we will throw in the towel.’ That’s not what we are going to do, we are going to show up and compete with them. Our kids are going to play fine. We will be in this game, we will have an opportunity. At some point in time we will have some plays that if we make, we will have a chance to win. I believe that.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the notorious Black Flag has been a staple the last two seasons. During their 2021 undefeated regular season, The Black Flag held opponents to 14 points or less seven times. This season the Pirates’ defense ranks first in Class 6A with 6.5 points allowed a game.
“Devin Smith is really really good at outside linebacker, he just gets in and tears it up,” Hidalgo said. “He is going to get you sometimes, as is Ka’Shawn Thomas at nose. They are going to get you sometimes. You can’t get upset when they make a play because you can do everything right and those guys will just make a play. We don’t really have anybody like that in that respect on our team. We have to counter that with great execution and great effort. We can’t let one play beat us. They are going to get in and make a play, sack the quarterback or make a negative play. We have to line back up, punt the ball, cover punch, play great defense.”
“The key to this game is defensively we have top play better than we have been playing. If we can’t compete with them defensively and we let them go down the field and score it’s going to be a long night. They are really good on defense. They remind me of some of our early teams here. They have some dominant defensive line guys and they run around really well on the back end. It is hard to get big plays on them.”
Hidalgo said the team will have to go and play hard as well as execute at a high level to get the win against their rivals. Hidalgo wants to see his team play better because he knows his team can be better than what they have showed through four games.
“We have to play better than we have played,” Hidalgo said. “At times we play some good football and at times some not so good football. Our effort has to be sustained, our execution has to be better. If we can do those things, we will have an opportunity to compete and win the game. I wholeheartedly believe that. It’s going to be a great effort and we have to put in a great effort towards winning this game because they have a great football team.”