November 15, 2018

Times-Georgian preview of tonight’s Region 5-AA Championship

Courtesy of Nick Simon and the Times-Georgian

(Carrollton, GA) — When the Bremen High School football team officially reclassified back into Region 5-AA last November, anticipation already started to mount for the eventual showdown they would have with long, lost rival Heard County.

Fast-forward nearly a year later and the stakes couldn’t be higher for tonight’s 7:30 p.m. clash between the No. 4 Blue Devils and the No. 9 Braves at Redding Field, with the winner walking out of the regular season finale as region champions.

“Coach (Tim) Barron is a good friend of mine and we realized a long time ago what was going to be at stake with this matchup. What we’ve talked about is how fun it’s going to be for both of our teams and both of our communities,” said Bremen head coach Davis Russell of the matchup.

“I’m proud that our kids have an opportunity to play in a big game like this and hope that they play to the best of their abilities. It’s something that they’re never going to forget.”

Heard County head coach Tim Barron also described the building hype for the battle between two local Class AA juggernauts.

“You got two really good football teams that are about to line up for a title. From a fan aspect, they’re going to be jacked and excited. It’ll be a big crowd and a great atmosphere,” Barron said. “But from a coach’s aspect, you’re like, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to get much sleep.’ It’s because they are very good and we have a tremendous amount of respect for how that team plays and executes. We know we have a huge challenge in front of us.”

Both teams have taken similar, yet different paths to put themselves in a position to play for a 5-AA title this evening.

Armed with a veteran roster featuring roughly 30 seniors, Bremen (8-1, 4-1 Region 5-AA) has dominated throughout its 2018 slate by putting up 38.6 points per game while holding opponents to 10 points or under in eight contests.

The Blue Devils’ previous two top 10 encounters this fall included a last-second,13-10 win over Rabun County in Statesboro to start the campaign and a 37-25 loss at Callaway on Sept. 28, their only blemish on the year.

Coach Russell is hoping his team approaches this game like the former rather than the latter.

“Against Rabun, we had a fun trip. We were relaxed, we played loose and we played well. Against Callaway, we were a little tight, so I told them (Wednesday) that this is supposed to be really fun,” Russell said. “Be loose, have a blast and enjoy the moment because playing 48 minutes for a championship is something that they’re going to remember forever.”

He talked about how his kids have been poised in the days leading up to the matchup.

“With us being a veteran team, getting a gameplan in is something that doesn’t necessarily take a long time,” Russell said. “It’s fine-tuning it and polishing it that we have to work on throughout the week and our guys have done a good job of that. They’re really excited.”

On the other side of the field, Coach Barron’s goal of getting his Braves (7-2, 5-0) to peak at the right time has led them to the doorstep of a second straight region title.

Suffering ugly losses to reigning state champion Hapeville Charter and Rockmart at the start of the season, the Braves have since gained steam, running off six consecutive victories that included a dramatic 13-10 win over Callaway on Oct. 19 to take control of first place.

Barron talked about his players’ preparation for the showdown at Redding Field.

“The kids have been dialed in and focused,” Barron said. “It’s a lot to prepare for so we’ve had to slow things down at times to make sure that our kids have a good understanding of how we’re wanting to play certain things. It’s been a little bit of a slowed down pace just from the number of reps we want to get in because we want to be sound at what we’re doing.”

From stalwarts like Wade Cartwright to Jason Houston to Kade Berry to Evan Fuller, Barron and the Braves know that they will have their hands full on every single play from scrimmage.

“They’re good in every phase of the game. Offensively, they can run, they can throw and the offensive line does a great job. The coaches over there keep you balanced, so you have to prepare for so much with lots of shifts and lots of formations,” Barron said.

“Defensively, they’re aggressive, physical and they play fast. A lot of man-to-man coverage and a lot of hats in the box. And then their kicking game is exceptional. Everything they do, they do well.”

In turn, HC has imposed its will on teams down the stretch with a physical style on both sides of the ball, anchored by a veteran offensive and defensive line alongside the likes of likes of safety and University of Tennessee verbal commit Aaron Beasley, linebacker Andrew Leak and senior quarterback Alijah Huzzie.

Coach Russell lauded the collective size of the Braves that his Blue Devils will have to contend with.

“Their defensive line looks like four coke machines. They’re really big, very physical and really fast. Both defensively and offensively in the box, they’re definitely the biggest team that we’ve seen,” Russell said.

“For us to think that we can match them big for big is not feasible. We don’t have kids that big, so we have to make sure that we’re perfect in our technique and that we play really, really fast because speed is something that we can use to our advantage and against a team like this, we have to.”

The game will be broadcasted live on B-92.1 FM.

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