Frederica Academy Knights

The River

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Sometimes football has an artistic flow to it. A rhythm, a rhyme. “Slam poetry,” if you will. Almost like a song.

Thus, is definitely the case with the high school career of one Jordan Bryce Triplett. His time as a Frederica Knight began and ended on the same field; Goddard Field on the campus of Valwood Academy. The opening and closing stanzas one might say.

And oh, what an anthem came between.

For those of us there in Hahira, Georgia on September 11, 2020, we had no idea what would follow that 167 yard/2 TD performance. Most of us were wondering who this freshman was that outran Senior RB Kyle “Meatball” Perez by almost 20 yards.

When Perez went down a few weeks later with injury, the wonder turned to concern as to whether the (as Coach Brandon Derrick called him) “racehorse with blinders” could handle the load.

The 1852 yards and 22 touchdowns he amassed by the end of his freshman campaign belayed those concerns. This was obviously a talented young man that knew where he wanted to go – the NFL.

“I’ve always had dreams of playing college football and eventually going to the NFL,” said Jordan to me recently via TwitterX. “The Lord was gracious and has kept me healthy to get me to where I am now.”

The Lord (with an assist from Frederica’s Head Athletic Trainer Adam Norman) did indeed keep him healthy for his four-year run. Ironic that his career was jumpstarted by the injury to his teammate and friend.

“(Kyle) was one of the best mentors you could ask for,” Jordan recalls. “He was hard on me when he needed to be. It was critique that I desperately needed so early in my career. He showed me a lot in my one year with him.”

That freshman season wound up with a trip to the GIAA State Championship against long-time foe John Milledge Academy, who Jordan surprisingly doesn’t list as the most formidable opponent of his tenure.

“I think two teams that stand out are Calvary Day and Savannah Christian,” says Jordan. “Yes, JMA has been tough over the years, but those two teams truly were dominating their leagues when we played them.”

Regardless of the competition, Jordan continued to produce throughout his time ‘Under The Oaks’. He put up 1699 yards his sophomore year and 2305 as a junior, adding 26 touchdowns in both seasons. Those numbers set him up for what turned out to be a historic senior campaign.

This past season, Jordan broke or tied several prestigious records in the State of Georgia. The most notable being the career rushing record of 9,028 – the only player in state history to break 9,000 yards for his career.

To do this, it took 3,172 yards for the season – which tied the all-time single-season record for yardage. Both records had stood for 23 years.

In addition to those, he clocked in at #3 all-time career rushing TDs at 115 and became the only player in state history to have three 400-yard games.

“Never did it come to mind that we would be able to break the all-time rushing record. That’s something that seemed untouchable, but we did it and when I say we I mean the coaches and offensive unit.”

Triplett has always heaped praise and shared glory on his teammates and coaches. Even though he says he was closest to Tucker McClain, Sam Norris, and Sutton Ellis, one of his favorite memories involves a Frederica alumnus he never played with; the NFL-bound Jaylin Simpson.

“On the way (to the state championship), he called me and gave me some great advice. It consisted of how to be a leader on a team, which he knew I needed because of how young I was.’

Like Jaylin, Jordan has fielded speculation about how playing at a small school would be a detriment to his career. Neither Simpson nor the Tripletts have any regrets.

“There is always the ‘unknown factor,’” according to his mother Becky Triplett. “Would he have more offers? Would he have had more opportunities? But, Frederica Academy is family. He has the best coaches, a top-notch education, an incredible support system, and the advantage of the small-town atmosphere.”

And we had the advantage of watching him make history.

The Knights’ Journey

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Coach Brandon Derrick is pretty confident for a guy with a combined .500 record over the last three seasons.

But confident he is, and so are his players – players who trust the process. It’s a process that goes by the philosophy that you can’t make yourself a better team playing against lesser competition.

Steel sharpening steel, iron sharpening iron, buzzsaw scheduling – whatever you want to call it, the results are tangible.

Said results would need to be evident quickly this season. With QB Sutton Ellis graduated, Coach Derrick made the bold decision to move to a full-time wildcat formation with rising senior RB “The River” Jordan Triplett under center.

The big question would be how the change in offensive scheme would affect Triplett’s pursuit of history. Triplett would start the year with 5,856 rushing yards and 92 TDs. Those numbers meant that with an average (by his standards) season, he could easily find himself in the top 20 all-time for both categories in the state of Georgia.

The season opener let us know that “average” was not to be expected this year. Going up against a Brookwood team that beat the Knights by 4+ touchdowns in a quarter and a half of play in 2022, Frederica showed that this is absolutely a different team by notching a 56-41 win.

Week 2 wound up being more of the same, with The River running for another 349 yards and 5 TDs, as well as a TD pass to senior WR Kwon Vaughn en route to a 39-35 squeaker against Tiftarea Academy.

The original Week 3 game against Valwood Academy was canceled due to Hurricane Idalia, so a pickup game against Class 4A (SC) Bluffton was added. It was an ugly 44-13 loss.

Bluffton would prove to be the first of 4 straight losses against powerhouse teams. The high point of the run was arguably limiting John Milledge Academy to 17 points (their lowest output since the 2018 state championship game), whereas the low point was the 41-13 loss to Tatnall Square.

A victory the following week against longtime rival Robert Toombs wrapped up non-region play by a score of 42-21.

Region play started at home versus hated rivals Bulloch Academy. Not only was the game a loss, but eventual All State LB Hamp Thompson was lost for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Junior LB Hayes Carter filled in quite admirably, and the Knights were able to run the rest of the region table. Frederica ended the year tied for second in the region and secured a first round playoff bye.

The Knights dispatched Terrell Academy in their quarterfinal matchup, before falling 56-30 to eventual State Champions Valwood.

In addition to the All-State honors to Triplett and Thompson, All-Region laurels were bestowed upon LB Hayes Carter, RB Rico Holmes, Kickoff Specialist/Punter Blake Holloway, and OL/DLs Tucker McLain & Will Johnson.

In addition, K Mary Ford Fitzjurls wound up #2 in GIAA Class 3A in Kick Scoring, and RB/DB Colt Howes was #4 in 3A for Kickoff Returns and #5 in Punt Returns.

As far as the freshman class goes, I get the feeling we should expect big things from QB Jaylen Baldwin and RB Jayden Gibson.

Dragon Slayers

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The last time Coach Brandon Derrick started the season with a senior committed to a Division 1 team was 2018.

Jaylin Simpson and Jashawn Sheffield were ready to head to the plains to play for the Auburn Tigers, but first they had a State Championship to bring to St. Simons.

Fast forward to today. Record-setting running back Jordan Triplett is ready to embark on his final campaign in green & grey and is doing so as a future Air Force Academy Falcon.

After helping take the Knights to a state championship appearance in his freshman year, “The River” has his teammates ready to finish the job in 2023.

“They’ve committed themselves early on to come in, bust their butts,” says Head Coach Brandon Derrick, set to start his 11th season at the helm of Frederica Academy Football.

“They worked really hard in the off season, and then when I say off season, we started in January, when we started working out, we’ve had 125 possible days in the weight room. Everyone has been there for at least 120. They’ve worked really hard.”

The preseason roster sits at close to 40 players, which is higher than most seasons. The ability for the team to scrimmage against itself as opposed to the coaches will be a big relief, as will giving some in-game relief for some players that have been every down players on both offense & defense for the last few years.

Replacing graduated quarterback Sutton Ellis will be either Davis Durkin, Stanton Beverly, or Jalin Baldwin. According to Coach Derrick, it’s a three-way race between them at the moment, and Jordan Triplett may slide in and play some as well.

Here’s what the game-by-game results should look like for what should be another historic season in Frederica lore.

8/18 Brookwood School – Facing Brookwood at home and hopefully not during a multi-hour lightening delay should make a difference this year. The Knights open with a win, 31-13.

8/25 Tiftarea Academy – The Panthers are always a challenge, but a second straight week of home cookin’ takes the Knights to 2-0 to the tune of 28-17.

9/1 @ Valwood – Frederica gets it’s first of four road games on the season, heading over to Hahira. The Valiants play hard at home, but the Knights are already rolling & notch their third in a row 17-14.

9/15 John Milledge Academy – Holding fast to the 2018 parallels, Coach Derrick has his squad up against the reigning state champs under the oaks. Although the team finally lets one in the L column, the on-field performance proves to be a confidence builder. Knights lose a barnburner 42-38

9/22 @ Clinch County  – The score is closer than last year’s 45-6 drubbing, but the Green & Grey can’t quite break back into the win column, falling 31-27.

9/29 @ Tattnall Square Academy – The Knights hit the road and bring home a signature win, getting the upset win over Tattnall 28-17.

10/5 Robert Toombs – It’s a happy homecoming as the Knights string together another win over one of their oldest rivals. Jordan Triplett has a massive game and a 49-9 blowout.

10/19 Bulloch Academy – The heated, hated rivalry with the Gators fires up once again. The road team historically has the advantage in this series, but the Knights are too focused at home. The March to Mercer begins with a 35-24 win.

10/27 Pinewood – It’s Senior Night, and the class of ’24 leaves their mark. The Patriots fall to the Knights big time, 41-28.

11/3 @ St. Andrew’s – The Lions still have a long way to go before they’re competitive in the region. Knights wrap up the regular season in a 45-9 slobber knocker.

FINAL RECORD – 8-2, Region Champions, deep run into the state playoffs.

 

2022 Crusade

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Whether intentional or not, it would seem that every Frederica Academy football season has a theme.

2018 championship season was the fastest, the 2020 was the smartest, and it seems the 2022 was the steadiest.

If you had to describe the 2022 season in a single word, it would be weird.

The season started three hours late, when the opening game versus Brookwood was delayed by lightning. Thankfully, the game ended early as well, the Knights losing the abbreviated opener 41-12.

Week two was a much more favorable result, with the Knights leaving Chula, GA with a 34-27 victory.

Frederica went to an all-time record of 4-4 versus the Panthers and brought themselves to a .500 record on the early season.

The next four games proved to be as difficult as expected.

Head Coach Brandon Derrick knew that his team would not get better playing lesser teams, so he scheduled a buzzsaw of a lineup for this year’s squad.

The following four games against Valwood, John Milledge, Clinch County, and Tattnall Square would prove to be losses but valuable ones at that.

Invaluable they were, indeed. While the team was not registering wins, junior running back Jordan Triplett and classmate LB Hamp Thompson were putting up statistics that would place them in the top of the standings in the state of Georgia.

By the end of the year, Triplett would have 2,305 yards rushing on 315 carries with 26 touchdowns, while Thompson would wind up #10 in the state across all divisions with 123 total tackles and 70 solo tackles on the year.

After a 1-5 start to the year, the Knights ran out the schedule in championship style.

The last four games of the year saw the Green & Grey put up an identical 42-point score, and their offensive powerhouse RB Triplett put up a minimum of 300 yards and 3 touchdowns per game, apexing with a 400-yard 6 touchdown effort in the final game. That secured a region championship for Frederica.

The regular season championship would grant the Knights a first-round bye and a second-round matchup against Deerfield Windsor Academy out of Albany, Ga. Frederica had only faced the Deerfield Windsor Knights once before. That was a second-round playoff upset at home ‘Under the Oaks’ in 2016.

The game looked to be a tale of two halves; unfortunately, the first half was the better for Frederica.

The opening drive was a clinical one. The Knights drove 80 yards in 13 plays, cumulating with a Jordan Triplett touchdown 7 ½ minutes into the first quarter.

After a three and out, Jordan ‘The River’ Triplett picked up a punt on two bounces and took back a blissful 88-yard return for a touchdown, taking the Knights to a 14-0 first quarter lead.

Unfortunately, that would be the end of the offense on the night.

Deerfield Windsor would put up three touchdowns over the final three quarters while shutting out Frederica, ending their March to Mercer two weeks early by a score of 18-14.

While any season that doesn’t end on the field at Mercer University seems like a letdown for the Frederica faithful, the 2022 season seems almost like a warmup to what should be another championship run.

2023 should prove to be just as memorable as 2022, regardless of the outcome.

The River

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It has been said that you won’t get recruited to play college ball if you play at a small private school with less than 400 students.

Jordan Triplett’s texts at 12:01am on September 1st would say otherwise.

“We had been sending out stats and video clips for years, knowing that no one could reply,” says the Junior phenom running back from Frederica Academy. “At the end of last year, I was really wondering if anyone was watching. (Frederica Head Coach) Brandon Derrick just said to be patient. When midnight on Sept 1st hit, it exploded. It was such a relief.”

“Coach Derrick just said ‘told ya so.’”

Nicknamed “The River,” the Class of 2024 offensive star of the Knights has been putting up staggering numbers since his freshman year. Thrust into the starting role in the fourth game of the year, he never looked back.

In his first start against Brantley County, Triplett put up a staggering 163 yards on 26 carries. By the time the year was over, Jordan was the #1 RB in the nation for his graduating class.

“All this time, I knew I was putting up the numbers but I wondered what I was missing?”

It seems all he was missing was time. September 1st was the first day that college coaches could reach out to high school juniors in regards to recruiting. As soon as the clock hit midnight, Triplett had a good idea his work was going to pay off.

“The first message that came at midnight was from Mercer,” says his father, Mark Triplett. “Then came Princeton, then Dartmouth. Florida Atlantic invited him to Junior Day & their invite only camp. The next morning there were a dozen schools in just the first day.”

As of three weeks later, a total of 15 schools have reached out, including Georgia Southern, Vanderbilt in the SEC, Iowa State in the Big 12, UConn from the AAC, and a laundry list of Ivy League & service academy squads; Princeton, Harvard, Dartmouth, Penn, Air Force, and Army.

Of the schools that have reached out so far, Jordan, his dad, and his mom all have their favorites (although they won’t be revealed here).

“Yes, I have a preference, but honestly I don’t think past the scholarships,” according to his mom Becky, a teacher at Frederica Academy. “Jordan wants to play, and mom doesn’t want to have to pay for it if she doesn’t have to,” she said with a smile.

The Ivy League schools aren’t a stretch for Jordan. He currently has a 4.2 GPA with a full load of AP classes.

“I’ve got to give that credit to mom and dad. We knew I wasn’t going to be the fastest or the biggest, but they knew that if I was a little good at football but had the academics, I’d have a chance to go play at the next level at some of the finest schools in the country.”

His father has been not only his biggest supporter and chauffeur, but his social media hype man as well.

“I’ve been doing this for a while,” says Mark. “Frederica has a small staff, no designated recruiter like some schools. I was really excited that over the last year that we sent out all these questionnaires and film, not knowing what they think about it since they couldn’t reach out. Then on the first day to finally hear from 12-15 teams that did like it, it was confirmation.”

Jordan obviously appreciates the effort.

“It’s funny, when I heard from Iowa State, I was like ‘how did THEY hear about me?’ and Dad said ‘I filled out a recruiting questionnaire.’ I said ‘when?’ He said ‘Ninth grade.’”

Jordan does have an as-of-yet unnamed dream school. They’ve made no official contact with him, but they have spoken to Coach Derrick about coming to a game.

The final goal is, of course, setting himself up for a chance at the NFL.

“I remember sitting in my bed in Montana with my six Cam Newton FatHeads, telling mom I was going to play in the NFL while jumping into a Carolina Panthers bean bag. I’ve always had that dream. Mom and Dad have driven me to all these camps, spent all that registration money. I’m going to have to eventually mow the lawn a lot.”

If the next six years go as planned, he’ll be able to buy them a new house to go with that lawn.

Frederica Academy Knights 2022 Preview

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

For the first time in his 10-year tenure, the season is approaching too quickly for Coach Brandon Derrick.

Thankfully, it has nothing to do with the status of his players. During the offseason, Frederica started a massive multi-million dollar renovation of their football facilities. Upgrades to the bleachers, press boxes, and a massive stone & cypress pavilion will make the home of the Knights one of the premier facilities in the GISA.

But the recent ongoing spell of rainy weather has delayed completion of the projects, and the Knights have had to take to the road for their Week 1 matchup against Brookwood and delay their home opener until Week 3 versus the Valwood Valiants.

Regardless of when they get it, the Frederica faithful are in for a treat under the oaks this year, both on the field and off.

“If we have some good luck the first three games we’ve got a good chance,” said Coach Derrick. “We’ve got a pretty good group of kids, and we have an opportunity to be right in the middle of it at the end of the season.”

Leading the charge this year will be new QB Sutton Ellis, who transferred to Frederica from Brunswick High after last season. Speaking about his new signal caller, Coach Derrick is quite complimentary.

“I think he fits in perfectly. He’s learned the offense; he knows what he’s doing out there. The biggest thing will be can he take some of the pressure off #4.”

Of course, the #4 in question is “The River,” RB Jordan Triplett. At the midway point of his high school career, Triplett has notched just over 3,400 yards rushing on 463 carries, averaging 7.4 YPC and finding paydirt a gaudy 47 times.

“To me he’s a Christian McCaffrey type. He’s gotten a step faster; he’s great coming out & catching the ball. He’s going to be lining up not just in the backfield this year. (New Offensive Coordinator) Bo Yeargan is going to get him in some matchups with people that they’re not going to like.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Coach Derrick is expecting big things from some of his rising freshmen.

“Down the road, I think Connor Pope could be our new Ashton (Frankel, c/o ’21 defensive powerhouse). He learned really fast this summer at camp. He and (fellow freshman) Fuller Wimberly could be difference makers.”

Here’s how we see the 2022 season shaping up for the Knights:

WEEK 1 – @Brookwood – Playing on the road will make things tougher against the Warriors, but the Knights find a way, starting the season with a 27-17 victory.

WEEK 2 – @Tiftarea – Chula, GA is never a n easy place to play, but the boys in Green & Grey get it done, 35-28.

Week 3 – vs. Valwood – Flipping this game to a home stand will help tremendously against one of Frederica’s toughest non-region rivals. The Knights christen the new facility with a hard-fought win to the tune of 42-31.

Week 4 – vs. Calvary Day – The Cavaliers finally make the trek to play under the oaks, but unfortunately the result doesn’t change. Calvary Day stretches their win streak against the Knights to three, beating the home squad 34-17.

Week 5 – @John Milledge – They still haven’t forgiven us for 2018, and they’ll remind us of that fact. It’ll be closer than the last two games, but JMA knocks Fred to 3-2 on the year, 45-28.

Week 6 – vs. Clinch County – Home cookin’ makes the difference this time, Knights win in a defensive struggle, 17-14.

Week 7 – @Tattnall Square – Frederica heads to middle Georgia for the second game in three weeks. That much time on I-16 isn’t good for anybody, and the Knights will struggle with this one, falling 41-17.

Week 8 – vs. Robert Toombs – An old rivalry gets renewed, and the Knights get back on track. The River hits a highwater point on the year, and the rest of the team follows. Big win, 55-10.

Week 9 – @Bulloch – the home team always seems to struggle in this most heated rivalry. This one will be no different. Knights over Gators 33-18.

Week 10 – @Pinewood – The schedule won’t hurt the Patriots as badly this year, but it won’t be enough. Frederica with a close win against a talented squad, 35-31.

Week 11 – vs. St. Andrews – The Lions have a new head coach this year and will be better for it. Not enough to keep Coach Derrick from securing another region crown, however. FA wraps up the regular season with a 48-21 win.

FINAL PREDICITON – 8-3, division champs, deep run in the playoffs.

 

The New Knights

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It’s a Friday afternoon at Frederica Academy, and Coach Brandon Derrick is happy to have made it through the day without any injuries.

Granted, this was spring field day at the school, not spring football practice, but he’ll take the victories where he can get them.

“Any day without injuries is a good day around here,” says the Englewood, Tennessee native, preparing for his 10th season leading the Frederica Knights.

The injury report was not his friend last season. Multiple week absences from two key players on an already short roster meant the 2021 Knights would have to rely on a late-season surge to salvage a .500 record for the year and eke into the playoffs.

It was a difficult task for a team that started with a scant 24 players on the roster, but relief is on the way for the 2022 Knights.

That relief comes in two forms; an influx of young talent from a rising freshman class that led the middle school Knights to an undefeated season last year, and a rising senior quarterback transferring in from Brunswick High.

After helping helm the Brunswick High Pirates to an 11-1 record in 2021, Class of 2023 Quarterback Sutton Ellis will be suiting up for his final campaign in the forest green and gunmetal grey of Frederica Academy,

“After the playoff loss to Dacula, his dad reached out to me,” recalls Coach Derrick. “He told me some things were said and Sutton wants to come over here. I told him if he wants to transfer, he’ll be like everyone else. He’ll have to compete.”

Ellis is used to competition. Splitting time under center last season, he managed to complete 42 of 83 attempts for 689 yards and 5 touchdowns during the Pirates’ run to the state playoffs. His first few months on campus at Frederica would lead you to believe those numbers can go nowhere but up this season.

“After his dad reached out to me, they came over to campus and hung out for a day,” elaborates Coach Derrick. “Sutton loved it. He thought this was a good place & a good setup and jumped right in. He’s playing baseball right now, starting at catcher.”

Since most of his eventual football teammates are two- and three sport athletes, there won’t be a true spring practice, save for film room, weight training, and playbook work.

“(Sutton)’s got the playbook and is studying it. He and Grant are actually working on it together right now.”

The “Grant” that Coach Derrick mentions is rising freshman QB Grant Moore – the leader of the previously mentioned undefeated middle school Frederica team from last season and the “competition” Coach Derrick spoke of in that first phone call with Sutton’s dad.

“We’ve got an 8th Grader coming up named Grant Moore that’s going to be pretty good,” says Derrick. “(He and Sutton) going to have to battle, it’ll be a competition.

Sutton is more of a traditional-style quarterback guy, and Grant is a pure athlete. We’ll be able to get him on the field at other positions, but I’m pretty sure they’ll both see action under center at some point.”

Joining the freshman QB will be several of his middle school teammates, not just adding depth to a roster that desperately needed it, but many starting as well.

“We’ll be starting or playing 8-10 freshmen, on the lines mostly. As crazy as that sounds, they’re gonna be some pretty good freshmen. We’re going to have 30-40 kids all total this year. The cupboard isn’t bare for the first time in a long time.”

Possibly the biggest benefactor of the influx of talent will be junior phenom running back Jordan “The River” Triplett.

“Jordan has been playing a lot of basketball, now baseball,” reports Coach Derrick. ”He’s a great three sport athlete, but his main focus is always football. He’s up to 195 lbs and is working on his speed & technique at a clinic down in Jacksonville. Hopefully Sutton & Grant will be able to get some throws to the outside, spread the field a little bit, and open up the middle for Jordan. We’re trying to add in some new wrinkles to get (Jordan) the ball in space.”

If I’ve learned anything in the last ten years, it’s that when Brandon Derrick starts talking about adding wrinkles to the playbook, there’s going to be some fun-to-watch football on the way. In his own tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating words, “we’ve got a chance to make some noise as long as I don’t do anything stupid.”

Knights Quest

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Over the years, Frederica Knights teams have developed their own personalities from year to year, and historically become known by it.

The 2018 championship squad was known as the fastest. In 2017, they were heralded as the most “football smart” unit. The Dirty Thirty of 2020 was aptly described as the grittiest Knights team to take the field.

The 2021 squad will more than likely be remembered by a single trait; resiliency.

The cards were stacked against the 2021 Knights from the moment the 16 seniors that led the Dirty Thirty crossed the graduation stage. Any team that loses that amount of talent and leadership will feel the loss in the locker room. The lack of incoming players for the new season just added to the difficulties.

When all was said & done in the offseason, there would be a scant 22 players in green & grey starting off the 2021 campaign. Coach Brandon Derrick, needless to say, was trying to temper expectations.

“We’re not going to be flying around, trying to go no huddle with everybody. We’re going to slow it down, more ball control/clock control,” said Coach Derrick during a preseason interview.

After Senior QB Thomas Veal broke his hand during the week 1 victory over Valwood, the Knights were forced to show their resiliency once again. Shifting fellow senior Bryce Reilly from WR to QB, the target for opposing defenses shifted even further to record-setting RB Jordan Triplett.

Four tough losses and a bye week later, Veal returned to the lineup and things started clicking again.

A lopsided win over Memorial Day was followed by a solid victory over the hated Bulloch Gators, and then a historic performance from Triplett the following week. “The River” put up 442 yards rushing against the St. Andrews Lions for the 6th best rushing game in the history of high school football in Georgia.

More importantly, the victory took the Knights to a 4-4 record on the season at the time, and set them up for a region championship matchup against the Pinewood Patriots the following week.

After going up 13-0 early against the Patriots, Pinewood QB Mic Wasson turned on the jets and led his team to a 32-20 victory over our Knights. Another loss is the Pinewood game would be senior TE/LB Jon Phillip Spiers, who broke his hand and is out for the remainder of the season.

Which meant it was time to show that resiliency once again to wrap up the regular season.

On the road in Dublin, the Knights took care of the Trinity Christian Crusaders to the tune of 42-17.

The Knights have a bye week coming up this week and will face fellow bye week recipient Tiftarea Academy the following week in a rematch from week 3.

The Panthers won that game 29-7. The winner of that game will more than likely face defending state champion John Milledge Academy. The Trojans have been dominant against the GISA, losing only one game in the last three years.

That loss was to Frederica. Resiliency will absolutely be needed from the Knights if that matchup is in their future.

 

Back On The Horse

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2012 State Champion Frederica Knights were recognized at halftime Friday night.

The 2021 Knights welcomed them with a championship caliber win.

The Knights broke back into the win column in convincing fashion against the Memorial Day Matadors to the tune of 53-6.

Frederica started the game at full speed, forcing a turnover on the opening kickoff, followed two plays later with RB Jordan Triplett’s first touchdown of the night, a swift 21-yarder through traffic. “The River” would follow that score with two more in the first quarter alone, taking it in from 10 and 11 yards.

The Knights offense was set up for success by the defense, forcing 3-and-out on the Matadors first five series. On the few plays that Memorial Day was on the field, they were being met by the Knights in the backfield. By the end of the night, Frederica had held Memorial Day to -26 yards of offense.

“Our defense was solid,” said Head Coach Brandon Derrick after the game. “We’ve been game planning both weeks (during the bye week). Defensively, we played two different defenses tonight. We played our base package, and we played a Hawk 4-2-5 to give us a different look, to create some havoc. I think the kids really enjoyed that.”

The game also saw the return from injury of QB Thomas Veal, who has been out since breaking his arm in the season opener. The Senior picked up right where he left off, showing very little rust on his run game or his passing game, the latter of which included a 24-yard TD to WR Bryce Reilly in the second quarter.

“He looked pretty good, he was really excited,” according to Coach Derrick. “He wanted to throw a lot more, but I thought it would look bad if we came out here throwing it all over the yard, especially when we’re able to run it for 15-20 yards a carry. He’ll get the opportunity to throw a lot more next week.”

The 15-20 yard runs were actually short ones on the night. The second quarter saw three long touchdown runs; a 69-yard jet sweep from WR TJ Jackson, a 56-yard rumble from Jordan Triplett (his 4th on the night), and a 38-yard end-around from WR/TE Jon Phillip Spiers.

“Anytime you can get a big play is good,” said the Coach. “Here lately we’ve just been grinding it out. That’s a good sign, but if you get a couple of big plays are even better.”

Arguably the “biggest” touchdown on the night came on the first drive of the second half. After freshman RB Hayes Carter (who had 100 yards rushing in the second half) was ruled out of bounds at the 1-yard line, Coach Derrick called on senior lineman Ashton “Puma” Frankel to line up at quarterback.

“He’s been giving us a hard time all week trying to get us to put (that play) in,” laughed Coach Derrick, “so we decided to call it, and danged if we didn’t snap the ball right into his leg, and dove right in there and fell on it for his touchdown. He’s actually got good feet, so you might see that again.”

Things get serious next week when hated rivals Bulloch Academy are under the oaks to start region play. Coach Derrick recognizes that his team is in a good, but precarious spot.

“It’s gonna come down to mistakes – who turns the ball over, who doesn’t execute a play here and there. Next week is gonna be an even matchup, we’re gonna be battling. We’ve got 20 (players), they’ve got 45. My 20 are gonna have to be tough, and they are pretty tough as it is.”

Conquested

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

After a tough loss last week to Calvary Day, the Frederica Knights were hoping some home cooking would be just what the doctor ordered.

Unfortunately, all the Tiftarea Panthers were ready to serve up was a taste of our own medicine.

Head Coach Brandon Derrick let it be known in the preseason not to expect the high-flying, seat-of-your-pants high-tempo offense of years past.

This year’s Knights squad will, out of necessity, be a very deliberate clock control type offense, milking the most out of every offensive series. While this strategy worked effectively against Valwood in the season-opening victory, it was not in the cards for the next who weeks.

Tiftarea employed the same philosophy against the Knights Friday night to the tune of a 29-7 final score. The Panthers put together long, extended drives all night starting with the opening drive.

Following the opening kickoff, Tiftarea put together a 72-yard, 12-play drive that ate up more than seven minutes of the opening frame and culminated in a designed QB scramble for the score.

“We knew where it was going 85% of the time in the first half,” said Coach Derrick. “They mixed it up a little in the second half. You’ve got what you’ve got.”

The Knights unfortunately answered the opening drive with a three & out series with short runs from RB Jordan Triplett and acting QB Bryce Reilly.

The senior WR filling in for the injured Thomas Veal would spend more time showing off his wheels than his arm all night. Reilly went 2-3 for 66 yards through the air and 12 carries for 48 yards.

Sophomore RB Jordan Triplett didn’t fare any better on the night. The Tiftarea defense focused on #4 all game, limiting him to 34 yards on 11 carries. The night was by far the worst of his so-far stellar career.

The lone offensive highlight of the evening came on the Knights second drive of the 2nd half. After the Knights turned the ball over on downs on the opening drive, Reilly lobbed a screen pass to Triplett to the short side of the field, which “The River” then turned into a 61-yard touchdown.

Late in the 4th, the Knights threatened to score again, evoking memories of late-game heroics from Knights squads past.

Reilly scrambled five times and was aided by a horsecollar penalty on a 16-yard run, which set the Knights up for a 1st & goal inside the 5-yard line. Unfortunately, Lady Luck failed to smile, and a bobbled handoff led to the only Knights turnover on the night, sealing the final score at 29-7.

Defensively, the night belonged to LB Jacob Aiken. The Player of the Game recipient notched a minimum of seven solo tackles (four on the opening drive alone) and numerous group efforts. After the game, he was adamant to share the credit for the performance with his teammates.

“There’s only 20 of us. We all rely on each other, we all fire each other up,” said the Senior. “It was Just as much the linemen as it was me. I need them, I need Jon Phillip (Spiers). We all need each other.”

The Knights are back on the road next two weeks for a pair of GHSA matchups, traveling to Nahunta to take on Frederica coaching alum Jeff Cannon and his Brantley County Herons, then to Ludowici to take on Long County.