It’s no surprise Bryan County sports a 5-1 record going into its Region 3A-D1 opener at defending region champion Metter on Friday night. Since he took over the Redskins program four years ago Coach Cherard Freeman and his staff have spent every waking moment preparing for this season. In his first year Freeman had games where he started as many as 15 freshmen, willing to take his lumps as a price to pay for long term benefits.
Those freshmen took their lumps as they went winless but they stuck with the program. Prior to last Friday night’s 42-0 Homecoming win over Montgomery County there were 21 seniors introduced in pre-game ceremonies.
While all-state candidates Austin Clemons and Tanner Ennis headline Bryan County efforts on both sides of the ball, the unsung heroes on this team, Clemons said, are the grunts in the trenches.
“I love those guys,” Clemons said. “They protect me against the first lines. They do their job and it makes my job easier. I can’t do anything without them.
“It’s tough being in the trenches,” Clemons said. “I’ve never had to be there but I know it’s tough. But they work through it. They may not get the most cheers but nothing is possible without them.
“They are the stars of the team.”
Clemons is in uncharted territory for a Bryan County running back. He needs only 11 yards at Metter to eclipse 1,000 yards and as a linebacker he has 63 tackles second to Ennis’ team leading 73.
If Clemons maintains his current pace, he will finish the season with 1,648 yards plus whatever he can add on in at least one playoff game. Clemons also has a team high five sacks and two interceptions, one behind Sean Kelly Hill.
Nothing would make the guard-tackle tandem of John Good and Luke Holcombe happier than to see Clemons continue on his roll. As a team Bryan County is averaging 290 yards per game rushing.
After each game Freeman is quick to single out his offensive and defensive lines for their play most notably Good and Holcombe, a pair of seniors who say their work is far from finished.
“Right now, our standards are very high,” Good said. “We’re aiming for that region championship but we’ve still got a bunch of stuff to work on in order to achieve that goal.
“We need to come together as a team to make practice perfect and in the classroom, we need to be student-athletes and be the best we can be there, too.”
With 38 tackles and three sacks Holcombe is the ringleader on the defensive line and a key factor on why the Redskins are giving up only 7.7 points per game which ranks among the top 10 teams in Class A-D1. Their three shutouts are a school record.
“To get to where we want to go, I think we need to clean up some stuff,” said Holcombe in agreeing with Good. “We need to practice better and we need to beat Metter.
“Metter has beaten up on us the last three years (the Tigers have won nine straight against Bryan County) and if we’re going to take it to the next level, we’ve got to beat them,” Holcombe said. “It feels great to be 5-1 from where we came from but we’re not where we’re supposed to be.”
Good and Holcombe both agreed they don’t give it a second thought as to who the ball carrier is going to be when a play is called whether it be Clemons, Erin Greene, Jacari Carney or a pass play.
“All that matters for us in the trenches is we’re thinking if we do our job and provide the protection we’re going to score,” Good said. “Regardless of what happens we have to keep the defensive guy off the man with the ball.”
“If we score a touchdown we’ve done our job,” Holcombe said. “Simple as that.”