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.