By Kevin Price
For GCS Athletics
Glynn Academy head coach Rocky Hidalgo had a big smile on his face when he took off his mask for a quick breather Friday night following the Red Terrors’ 33-7 season-opening victory over McIntosh County Academy at Glynn County Stadium.
The GA coach liked the final score, but he also loved the festive atmosphere and how the Terrors looked in uniform as they debuted black jerseys in the first game of the 2020 season being played in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic which will remain a storyline throughout the season.
“Today was unbelievable,” said the GA coach now in his sixth season with the Terrors. “From the pregame meal to the Terror Walk, everything was just special today. You don’t get a lot of opportunities to coach in special games, and that’ what today was. It was special. It really was.
“A lot of work has gone into having this game and games all around the state really. Coaches, athletic directors, principals and superintendents around the state let the Georgia High School Association know they wanted a season. We’ve proven we can do it and everyone can have something in 2020, our players, our cheerleaders, the bands, everyone.”
A good crowd came out to be part of opening night as Glynn and McIntosh met in a game that wasn’t originally on either team’s schedule. The teams were set to scrimmage each other in the preseason before all scrimmages were called off by the GHSA in early August to avoid potential risks related to the coronavirus.
The GHSA also delayed the start of the regular season two weeks, but stuck to its plan to begin this week throughout August. Several schools in the state have decided not to play and many more have chosen to start later. The Savannah public schools were among those opting for a later start, leaving several programs without opponents early on. Glynn and MCA both lost games they had scheduled against Savannah teams and thus arranged to play each other on opening night.
Glynn has been affected by Covid issues leading into the season, including have more than a dozen players missing school and practice due to being in quarantine because of contact tracing and possibly being in direct contact with someone testing postive for the virus.
Five of the team’s top eight offensive linemen were not at practice to start the week. Two members of that group did return in time for the game but played very limited snaps.
Hidalgo said the Terrors ran a very reduced offensive package. “We ran maybe 20 percent of our offense. There was a lot we didn’t do,” he said.
McIntosh actually finished with more offensive yards than Glynn with 201 to 161 by the Terrors, but GA made the most of short-field situations and also scored two defensive touchdowns off turnovers by the Buccaneers to win going away.
Glynn’s first touchdown of the season came following their own missed field goal at the end of its first possession. GA senior linebacker Miles Smith stripped the ball loose from MCA senior running back Trent Johnson and raced down the MCA sideline for a 30-yard score.
Two possessions later, Caden Hutchinson capped a four-play, 30-yard drive for the Terrors when he took a pitch from quarterback TJ Lewis on fourth-and-3 and covered the 23 yards for Glynn’s first offensive TD of the new year.
Up 14-0 at halftime, the Terrors scored three times in the second half which was played with a running clock in the fourth quarter.
GA senior quarterback TJ Lewis, who committed to Louisville this summer, scored on a 4-yard run to make it 21-0 following the extra point by Cameron Mendez less than four minutes into the third period. The score was set up by a 26-yard interception return to the MCA 8-yard line by Ryan Seay.
Glynn went up 27-0 late in the third on a beautiful 26-yard pass from Lewis to D’Marion Hayes along the MCA sideline on a fourth-and-8 play.
Hidalgo was excited to see that pass go for points.
“TJ can really throw the ball. There’s a reason Louisville offered him as a quarterback,” Coach Rock said. “He’s gonna surprise some people with how well he can throw the football. We’re not gonna be a team that throws it 30 times a game, but we’re gonna hurt people throwing the ball.”
Glynn’s final score came on the game’s last play when freshman David Prince picked off a pass and rumbled 71 yards to paydirt, making a nice move to avoid a tackler around midfield.
The only score from the Bucs came on a 4-yard run by Miles Wood early in the fourth. It appeared Glynn had recovered a fumble by MCA on the previous play, but the visitors kept possession after the officials determined they blew an inadvertant whistle to stop the play prior to the fumble.
GA ran for 118 yards in the win. Hutchinson carried seven times for 45 yards, Lewis kept 10 times for 31 yards and Jayden Drayton ran seven times for 29 yards while also catching two passes for 17 yards.
Lewis threw only five passes and completed three for 43 yards.
MCA rushed for 188 yards with senior Trent Johnson gaining 75 yards on 16 attempts. The Bucs were hurt by three interceptions.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do on defense,” Hidalgo said. “But I knew that. We have four lineman who didn’t play much last year, and we’ll get a lot better as a group up there.”
Glynn will go down to Kingsland next Friday to face Camden County which got knocked off 28-11 at home by defending Region 2-AAAAAA champion and state semifinalist Richmond Hill on Friday.
McIntosh will return to Brunswick next Friday to play Brunswick High which lost at Pierce County on Friday.