Frederica Academy can push its winning streak to three games, but it’ll have to beat a Region 2-3A rival in the midst of a revival to do so.
Pinewood Christian is off to its best start since 2015, when it went undefeated in the regular season to capture the region title before faltering in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs. The Patriots have yet to return to the postseason, going on to lose 20 of their next 30 games over the last three seasons.
During that period, Frederica (2-2) took control of the region, compiling a 26-9 record while winning three straight region titles, six playoff games, and a state championship.
The shift in power between the two programs can also be seen in the all-time series.
Pinewood won the first four meetings against Frederica beginning with a 31-14 victory in 2012. The Knights earned their first win in the series 30-17 in 2016, and they’ve since extended the streak to three.
Frederica Academy can tie up the all-time series with a fourth-straight win against Pinewood when it kicks off from home at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“I think they were young last year,” said Knights head coach Brandon Derrick. “They graduated a lot of really good players the last couple of years before that.
“It was kind of a rebuilding phase for them last year, and then this year, I think they’ve done a really good job.”
After starting this season 0-2, the Knights (2-2) have won two straight games by a combined score of 84-0.
Frederica ran roughshod over Augusta Prep Day before last week’s bye, racking up 481 total yards of offense with 366 yards coming on the ground as 10 different players carried the ball at least once against the overwhelmed opponent.
The Knights are averaging just over 300 yards of total offense per game this season — a slightly misleading figure as a contest against Bethlehem Christian was called at halftime due to lightning.
Denver Anthony has been Frederica’s most dangerous ball carrier with 259 rushing yards and five touchdowns to go along with seven catches for 127 yards and two more scores.
Although Anthony is averaging 8.5 yards per touch on 45 plays from scrimmage, the most he’s touched the ball in one game is 19 times. Derrick expects at least 20 touches to become the new normal for the standout running back as the Knights enter region play.
“You’re going to see Denver, and Deke [Jernigan], and those guys really get leaned on a lot these next weeks, especially against Pinewood,” Derrick said. “We’ve got to get the ball in our playmaker’s hands and let him make plays. It would be crazy not to.
“We’ve got some things schemed for him to do. He may run, he may throw some, he’s been a quarterback before. He may be running and throwing at the same time. You never know what’s going to happen, but he’s going to be a big focal point.”
Jernigan has recorded 123 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 18 carries this season, and Avery Cobb has been limited to four carries for 95 yards, a touchdown, and three catches for 79 yards as Frederica looked to limit the wear and tear to its top playmakers. Like with Anthony, the shackles should be off Jernigan and Cobb moving forward.
Pinewood is physical up front on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and it has some athletes that could present problems for Frederica, but the Knights play early season non-region games against the likes of Charlton County and Valwood to prepare themselves for this point of the season.
Derrick doesn’t believe his team is likely to see any teams as big and athletic as the two they opened the season against.
But Frederica will still need to play sound defense, keep freshman quarterback Tyler Devlin in good situations, and avoid the distractions that come along with homecoming festivities to notch another win.
“Pinewood’s a rivalry,” Derrick said. “It’s one of our closest region opponents, so our kids are pretty fired up about it.”