Masks were required, but no mercy rule was needed Friday night in Pembroke.
Sure, Bryan County High School fell 34-6 to Butler in the football season opener for both schools, but the Redskins hung tough against the Class AAA Bulldogs from Augusta and trailed only 12-0 at halftime.
Under first-year BCHS coach Cherard Freeman, the Redskins debuted a new offense, a new defense and 13 freshmen starting in key positions.
While that inexperience showed at times in penalties and miscues, Bryan County, which competes in Class A, the classification for the smallest schools in the state, also showed mettle and flat out refused to quit.
“I’m proud of them the most for that,” Freeman said. “They fought hard, they really did.”
Freshman Jamari Flannel scored Bryan County’s only touchdown on a 6-yard run in the fourth quarter that featured second, third and probably fourth effort by Flannel, who carried players into the end zone.
It was the first TD scored by BCHS in 16 quarters dating back to last season.
The loss was the Redskins’ 17th straight, but the game marked the first time Bryan County played a full game without a running clock – a measure used in blowout games –
It is sign of better things ahead, their coach said.
“I can tell everybody that those puppies out there, they might be puppies now, but they’re going to turn into big dogs some day,” Freeman added. “We’ve thrown a lot at these kids, and they’ve hung in there.
We’re going to get better as a football team.”
Freshman Jacari Carney was the Redskins’ leading rusher with 61 yards on 16 carries and Austin Clemons, another freshman, added 38 yards on 11 carries. Freshman quarterback Sean Hill was 2 of 8 for 20 yards. Flannel had one catch for 11 yards and freshman Ethan Twombley pulled in a nifty a 9-yard reception.
The Redskins are off this week. They’re at Southeast Bulloch on Sept. 25.
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