By Kevin Price
For GCS Athletics
Glynn Academy will kick off a new football season Friday night with a home game against nearby McIntosh County Academy at Glynn County Stadium.
The Buccaneers were not scheduled to be Glynn’s opening opponent originally. The Red Terrors were scheduled to face off against Islands in Savannah, but Chatham County public schools won’t play for a few more weeks and will only play each other when they do return because of Covid-19 concerns.
That decision by the Savannah schools left Glynn looking for a game, and the Terrors only had to look a little north to Darien to find a replacement on opening night. GA and MCA were scheduled to scrimmage each other before the preseason contests were cancelled by the Georgia High School Association, and when the Bucs also lost an opponent on their schedule, the Terrors became an easy pick to fill that void, too.
Schedules figure to change weekly across the state as Georgia tries to play football through a pandemic that has already led to a delayed start to the season, numerous game cancellations, suspended practices and much more throughout a long and trying summer for teams all over the state.
Replacing their first opponent was one of the easier challenges for the Terrors who have dealt with bigger issues already due to the virus. Glynn missed a week of conditioning workouts back in June because a player tested positive for Covid, and more recently, several coaches and players have had to miss practice and school while in mandatory quarantine because they were believed to be directly exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus.
“Everyone is going to be affected by it,” said GA head coach Rocky Hidalgo about Covid. “It will affect everyone differently. This is something none of us has had to face before, and we’re all gonna have to navigate our way through it and figure out how to play.”
A huge proponent of playing football during the pandemic for several reasons, Hidalgo is ready to press on with the Terrors and attempt to build another formidable team if Covid or something else doesn’t make the task impossible.
“Player development is the main thing that we’ve lost with not having spring practice and the usual summer,” Hidalgo pointed out. “We haven’t had much consistency on the offensive line. With people out and missing time, we haven’t developed cohesion up there. We’re still developing two kids at safety. We feel like we can cover people on the corners. And, we’ve got to develop some depth on the defensive line.
“But, I think we’re gonna have a good football team, one that can hopefully compete for the region championship, get in the playoffs and win some games.”
The Terrors finished 6-5 last year, were second in Region 2-AAAAAA behind Richmond Hill which was the only league team to beat them, and toppled perennial power Tucker in the opening round of the state playoffs before losing at top-ranked Dacula in round two.
Glynn returns six starters on offense including a trio of big-time playmakers in senior quarterback TJ Lewis, senior running back Caden Hutchinson and sophomore receiver Jayden Drayton.
Lewis, a long-bodied athlete, has already committed to Louisville which plans to give him a chance at quarterback. He will be a primary runner in Glynn’s shotgun-option offense and has improved as a passer in the offseason, according to Hidalgo.
“You have to give your quarterback things he’s good at,” the GA coach said. “TJ can make plays with his feet, but he’s worked hard on throwing the ball. I think we have better receivers than last year, and hopefully those guys will make some plays. We had a lot of dropped balls last year, a lot that could have been for big plays and touchdowns.”
Hutchinson, who shared carries last year with senior Nolan Grant, will be a power runner for Glynn between the tackles and can run away from defenders in the open field. Drayton is a dynamic player who has big-play potential as a ballcarrier and pass-catcher.
“Caden will be our primary dive back, but we’re gonna put him in the slot and pitch it to him on the perimeter also,” Hidalgo said. “You’re gonna see Jayden Drayton in different spots. We’ve gotta make sure we get the ball in his hands several times a game.”
Three starters also return for Glynn on the offensive front including seniors Nick Demarzo, Clayton Ketcham and Nick Muchinson.
The GA defense also brings back seven starters from last year including starting corners Jaiden Miller who has several college offers and Jujuan Floyd. Both players are seniors.
Glynn returns four starters in the linebacking corps including senior Miles Smith, Ryan Seay, Joseph Beckham and Dayen Marat.
The only returning regular on the defensive line is Gage Roof.