September 16, 2021

Braves enter state rankings after opening night win over South Atlanta

(Franklin, GA) — The Heard County Braves football team debuted in the state’s Top 10 rankings following a 20-6 opening night win over South Atlanta Friday night at Staples Stadium.

The Braves had been unranked in the preseason polls before appearing in both the AJC and Score Atlanta rankings this week.

The Braves are ranked No. 9 in Class AA according to Score Atlanta and No. 10 according to the AJC.

Senior Brave Alex Boyd takes on a Hornet defender (Photo: Jeff Napier)

Region 5-AA rival Callaway sits atop the Score Atlanta Poll and the Cavs are ranked No. 2 by the AJC behind Rabun County.

Another region foe, Bremen, is ranked No. 9 by the AJC but are unranked by Score Atlanta.

The Braves rallied behind strong individual performances from several players on both offense and defense in Friday’s win at Staples Stadium.

Leading the way offensively was senior tailback Alex Boyd who rushed for 159 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries.

Boyd’s 40-yard TD burst in the second quarter and a 75-yard rush deep into Hornet territory in the third quarter were the key blows by Boyd.

Junior QB Maurice Fench got things rolling for the Braves early on as he found senior wide receiver Ayden Cannon on a 27-yard TD pass for the home team’s first score. Fench also found the end zone himself on a 5-yard rush for the Braves’ lone second half score.

The Braves played well defensively with the lone Hornet TD coming in the waning moments of the game versus the Brave underclassmen.

Up front, junior Jackson Akins had a big game accounting for nine tackles on just 22 snaps while also playing the entire game on the offensive line.

Another Brave who played well on both sides of the ball was junior Isaiah O’Neal. O’Neal’s second quarter interception set up the Boyd TD and his sack ended a drive by the Hornets to close out the first half.

Other top players on the defensive side of the ball for the Braves were seniors Nathan McGoran and Ashton Bonner along with freshman Jonathan Echols. Bonner had nine tackles including two for a loss while McGoran had eight big stops including two behind the line of scrimmage.

Echols recorded six tackles. O’Neal and senior Anthony Graley each notched five tackles.

“We looked sloppy and out of shape. We didn’t execute well on either side of the ball but we did play hard and that’s how we got away with the W tonight,” said Coach Tim Barron after the game.

Entering his 19th season as the Braves head man, Barron knows his team will need to improve in a road trip to Lindale, Georgia to meet the same team that eliminated the Braves from last year’s playoffs by a final score of 27-7 in the same stadium.

“Against Pepperell this week, we have got to be a completely different team — we’ve got to be playing at a different speed and we need all 11 executing on both sides of the ball,” says Barron.

Brave fans will be able to buy presale tickets for this Friday night’s game at Heard High on Thursday and tickets will also be available at the gate Friday night at Pepperell.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, fans will be required to wear masks inside the stadium this Friday night in Lindale.

Other Region 5-AA scores from Friday night included Bremen over Landmark Christian 38-0, Temple over Bowdon 16-12, Haralson County over Pepperell 28-12, and Callaway had the opening week off.

It was  strong opening night for Region 5-AA with all teams that played recording non-region wins.

In addition to the Braves week two trip to Pepperell, other week two Region 5-AA games on the schedule will include Haralson County versus Manchester, Temple at Central-Carrollton, Bremen versus rival Bowdon, and Callaway will do battle versus county rival Troup County.

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