Brandon Derrick

Knights Conquest

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

After an unexpected trip to the state championship game last season, the Frederica Knights are looking to temper expectations for this season. “We’re rebuilding, but we’ve got some really talented kids,” says Head Coach Brandon Derrick.

Arguably the most talented young man on the roster is sophomore RB Jordan Triplett. The #1 freshman running back in the nation last year, “The River” Jordan has been busy this offseason, attending numerous football camps, including a tryout for the US National Team.

“Jordan will be bigger and better this year,” according to Coach Derrick. “He’s got great speed especially when someone’s chasing him. When he gets in the open field, he didn’t get run down one time last year.”

Hamp Thompson, who played back-up last year, will also see a lot more action.

“This year he’s gotta be ready to play,” said Derrick. “It’s going to be a new experience for him.”

Another big year is expected from Senior Quarterback Thomas Veal. After being unexpectedly thrust back into the starting lineup last year, Coach Derrick is counting on solid development and performance from the signal-caller.

“Veal has been pretty good (in camp). He’s going to be a bit more of a runner this year. He’s got sneaky speed and he showed it last year. I think he’s got a greater understanding of what we’re trying to do. Experience is going to help him.”

Of the returning offensive & defensive linemen, there will be some new assignments for the 2021 season. Rising Junior Sam Norris, who played last year at Guard, will be moving to center to replace the graduated Joshua Elliot.

Quite possibly the most notable addition to the 2021 squad comes to the DL in the form of a 5’10” 305lb Ashton Frankel. A senior who was in line to be a starter at 7A North Gwinnett High, Frankel will be lining up at Nose Tackle for Frederica. According to Coach Derrick, Ashton “has done a good job of coming in and fitting right in.”

While the OL and DL are major points of concern, the receiving corps seems to be in good shape.

“We’ll be okay at WR,” according to Coach Derrick. “We didn’t have flashy speed last year but were still able to average 100 yards a game and complete 60% of our passes because we knew what we were capable of doing. We’ll have to be very calculated this year.”

With rising senior Chase Schueneman transferring to Glynn Academy, the leadership mantle of the receivers falls on the capable shoulders of senior WR Bryce Reilly.

According to Coach Derrick, “Bryce has the experience; he’s a senior with four years of game time under his belt. He’s nursing a tweaked knee right know, but he’ll be good to go.

At the Tight End position, the job looks to belong once again to Jon Phillip Spiers. While he “may be moved to OT” according to the Coach, they’re “trying to keep him at TE as the slot guy.”

When asked who will be the big surprise this season, Coach Derrick points to either William Levy or sophomore Blake Holloway.

“Blake is going to be a big-time football player this year. He’s 6’3, he may wind up being a premium DE/OLB when it’s all said and done, but he’s so fast at CB and he’s good. He’s going to be a big target down the field with great hands. He and Bryce are going to be a great pair.”

Elsewhere on the defense, DT Mike Collier still hasn’t recovered from last year’s injury. The team is expecting him back around mid-season. In the meantime, senior MLB Jacob Aiken will definitely be the defensive anchor.

“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,” says Coach Derrick. “Our kids understand where it’s at. It’ll be interesting.”

The Legend Of The Dirty Thirty

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It would be the epitome of understatement to say that the 2020 season for the Frederica Academy Knights was a surprising one.

Any season that ends in a trip to the state title game is a superlative one, no doubt.

Although the season was still somewhat up in the air due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the global pandemic was the least of Coach Brandon Derrick’s worries.

Defensive Coordinator Alex Mathis left the squad to join fellow FA coaching alum Geoff Cannon on the Brantley County Herons.

The already thin roster saw several contributors either opt out of the season or transfer to other schools, most notably the starting quarterback.

When the dust settled, the Knights would look to start the season with a meager 30 varsity players – “The Dirty Thirty” as they would come to be known.

And then, as the Knights approached their season opener versus longtime rival Valwood, COVID made its presence known. A positive test two weeks prior to the season opener required a 10-day shuttering of the program. After four days of game prep, the team headed to Hahira, GA to take on the Valiants.

After their first four quarters of the season, the Knights had given the first peek of what could be ahead in 2020 in the form of a 36-13 win.

Senior RB Kyle “Meatball” Perez put up 149 yards on the ground with 3 touchdowns, while freshman soon-to-be phenom RB “The River” Jordan Triplett notched 2 more touchdowns, while piling up 167 yards.

What turned out to be the tipping point of the season came in week three, when the team traveled to Chula, GA for the first time in six years to take on Tiftarea Academy.

The Panthers mounted a 4th quarter comeback and won the game 21-18, knocking the Knights to 1-2 on the young season, but more devastating was the loss of Kyle Perez. A broken leg would cost the running back most of his senior campaign.

The injury to Perez would mean an opportunity for Jordan Triplett to shine – and shine he did. The freshman back took on the weight of the starting role impressively, and the Knights wound up going 6-1 over the rest of the regular season, with the lone loss coming to Bulloch Academy, 20-16.

That loss would be avenged a month later in the first round of the playoffs, a game the Knights won 34-27.

In that game alone, Jordan Triplett carried the ball 24 times for a gaudy 278 yards and 4 touchdowns. Payback for another regular season loss came in the second round of the playoffs.

In a low-scoring affair, Frederica punched their ticket to the state championship with a 14-7 victory over Tiftarea.

Alas, the season ended where the Knights wanted it to end, it just didn’t end how they wanted it to end. The Goliath of John Milledge Academy got some payback of their own against the David of Frederica, flipping the script from 2018 and winning the trophy, 49-0.

When all was said & done, Jordan Triplett wrapped up the season with a noteworthy 1865 rushing yards on 237 carries, racking up 22 TDs on the ground and 2091 all-purpose yards.

Triplett’s opening salvo of his high school career saw him ranked as the #1 freshman running back in the nation, and the #2 back across all classes in the state of Georgia.

Post-season superlatives for #4 include selections to the GISA All State & All Region teams, Southern Sports Edition All-Area team, and an invitation to try out for the U.S. National Team.

While the freshman was making waves on the stat sheet, his 16 teammates from the Class of 2021were making their presence known as well. DEs Will Thompson and Will Counts (otherwise known as “the Wills”) combined for 94 tackles and were both named to the GISA All-State, All-Region, and All-Star teams.

Joining them on all three squads was LB Josh Meadows, who contributed significantly on both offense (his seam route was near unstoppable all season) and on special teams (blocking two punts in one game while playing without full use of one of his arms).

Senior MLB Joshua Elliott also got the nod for All-State and All-Region recognition, and three more Knights seniors were named to the All-Region squad as well; Eli Fritchman, Jaiden Rose-Scally, and Garrett Squire.

True, there are holes to be filled on the roster, but as any team coached by Brandon Derrick shows, talent follows talent, and more importantly, heart follows heart.

The 2020 Knights had plenty of both.

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch November 21

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch November 21
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The Knights’ Crusade

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Brandon Derrick enters his 8th season as head football coach of the Frederica Academy Knights this fall.

Derrick has built Frederica into one of the elite programs in the Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) by winning the State Championship in 2018.

The Knights finished 4-6 in 2019 as they rebuilt from losing so many seniors from the championship team, but made the playoffs and lost in the first round to Southland Academy.

The 2020 Knights have 14 starters returning from last season and are experienced across the offensive and defensive lines of scrimmage.

Depth could be an issue because the Knights have a total of 31 players on the entire roster. Derrick says “We have a chance to develop and be good if we can avoid injuries”.

Garrett Squires will anchor the offensive line. Derrick says he is versatile and is a team leader in the locker room.

Jacob Triplett will play plug in at right tackle. The defensive line has experience with Will Thompson and Will Counts returning. Counts is a three-year starter at nose guard.

The Knights will run a spread offense that will be more run based. Thomas Veal looks to be the QB and looked good in limited reps in 2019 after he returned late in the season from a preseason injury.

Kyle Perez is up to 185 lbs. and will get the bulk of carries at running back. Watch for Jordan Triplett to break on to the scene this fall at WR/RB.

Josh Meadows and Josh Elliott will lead an experienced linebacker position. Jayden Rose will be one of the better corners in the region.

The schedule/My Predictions/ * Region Game

9/11 @ Valwood: Valwood might as well be the third public school in Lowndes County.

The Valiants cherry pick Valdosta and Lowndes and that makes them a state title contender every season. These two schools have developed a great rivalry over the past 4-5 seasons.

Beating Valwood on the road will be very tough. The Knights play well but fall short 27-20 to go 0-1 on the season, but could see Valwood again in the postseason.

9/18 Calvary: Calvary always has one or two very talented players, but in the home opener Frederica gets it done 28-22 to even its record to 1-1 on the season.

9/25 @Tiftarea: The Knights travel to Chula, which is 10 miles north of Tifton to play the Panthers who went 8-4 in 2019.

This could be another playoff preview game for Frederica. The Knights come up a little short in this one 17-14 to fall to 1-2 on the season.

10/2 Brantley County: The Herons come to St. Simons to play football instead of the entire county coming over for 4th of July Fireworks. Highly anticipated matchup between the schools.

The public school Herons take the private school Knights for granted and get beat 24-18. The Knights go to 2-2 on the season.

10/16: Long County: Long is awful in football. FA wins 27-14 to go to 3-2

10/23: Memorial Day: The Matadors roll to SSI and get blistered 34-6. FA goes to 4-2 on the season.

10/30 @ Bulloch Academy *: The Gators, I’m told, have been recruited hard by Benedictine and lost key players.

The Knights find a way to win the region opener on the road 28-26 to set up a battle with Pinewood for the region crown in two weeks. FA goes to 5-2.

11/6 St. Andrews *: The Knights handle the Lions 34-16 to go to 6-2 and 2-0

11/13 @ Pinewood: The Patriots are loaded and the Knights gave the game away to them in 2019.

FA can win this game in Bellville, which is near Claxton. Due to factors out of their control, if you get my drift, the Knights fall short 27-23 and go to at 6-3 and 2-1 in region play.

11/20: Trinity Christian: The Crusaders roll into St. Simons and crusade out with a 28-14 loss. FA finishes the regular season with a 7-3 record and finish 3-1 in the region.

Frederica is a solid playoff team barring a rash of injuries in 2020.

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch January 18

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch January 18
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Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch November 23

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch November 23
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Frederica Academy Knights Coach’s Show w Brandon Derrick September 25

Frederica Academy Knights Coach's Show w Brandon Derrick September 25
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Back To Back?

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Let me go on record and say I have always respected Frederica Academy Head Football coach Brandon Derrick for his coaching abilities, but I have a new found respect for the man because he is an educator of young people to prepare them for life.

The man teaches 5 classes a day and I’m not talking PE classes, I’m talking college prep World History and Government courses on top of his role as head football coach.

The man’s plate is full and he has a passion for developing young people which is evident when you talk to him.

As for the 2019 football season the defending state champs have some big shoes to fill with departures.

But the coach says “I feel pretty good about the experience we have returning this fall. We played a lot of kids last year and we’ll be solid on the lines of scrimmage, running back and linebacker. We have Denver Anthony, Deke Jernigan, who are really good players coming back and we just need to stay consistent because we know what it takes to win and that is an intangible that mentally we have over other programs”.

Schedule/My Predictions:

08/23 at Charlton County: The Knights let the Indians off the hook on St. Simons last fall. Charlton has a new head coach. I have said all off season that I didn’t think Frederica would go down to Folkston and win. I have changed my mind Frederica beats Charlton 21-20 to go 1-0 on the season.

08/30 at Valwood: Frederica continues the brutal road slate with a trip to Valdosta to play a loaded Valwood team that has stocked the roster with Valdosta and Lowndes players that entered the transfer portal.

I think you get my drift here. This will be a tall task for the Knights and they fall early in the season 34-22 to Valwood to go 1-1 on the season. These teams will probably meet up again in the GISA State Playoffs.

09/06 vs Tiftarea Academy: The Panthers, a final four team in 2018, roll into St. Simons probably ranked in the top 5 in State.

The opening three games are brutal for the Knights. Frederica wins their home opener 28-24 to end this brutal opening stretch 2-1.

09/13 at Bethlehem Christian Academy: The Knights hung 62 on Bethlehem last season and will hang 50 on them in 2019. Knights 52-12 to go to 3-1 on the season.

09/20 vs Augusta Prep Day: Frederica dominates Augusta Prep 49-7 to go to 4-1 on the season.

10/04 vs Pinewood Christian: Will Pinewood be much improved in 2019? Maybe, but not that much improved. Frederica rolls 35-20 to go to 5-1 on the season.

10/11 at Westfield: This trip to Perry worries me for the Knights. Westfield is said to be improved in 2019. Westfield was a playoff team last season. Knights pull out a win late 24-21 to go to 6-1 on the season and 2-0 in the region.

10/18 at Trinity Christian: Trap game in Dublin for the Knights. The Crusaders went 7-5 in 2018. Frederica can’t get caught looking ahead to JMA and Bulloch. Frederica struggles, but wins an ugly 14-7 to go to 7-1 and set up a region title showdown with Bulloch Academy in two weeks.

11/01 at John Milledge Academy: Knights travel for the third straight week to Milledgeville to play the team many are picking to win the State Title in 2019.

The Knights blew out John Milledge for the title in 2018. JMA handles the Knights 28-21. Frederica drops to 7-2 on the season.

11/08 vs Bulloch Academy: Rivalry game. An angry set of Knights coming off a tough loss rebound and handle Bulloch Academy easy 31-10.

Not much love between Frederica and Bulloch Academy. Frederica wins another region championship and finishes 8-2 on the season.

Opposing Team view on Frederica: “I thought the Anthony kid was the best player on the field when we played them last year. They flat out put one on us, and we have them circled this year.

Brandon has done a fantastic job there, but I wonder about their feeder system and how long they can keep that thing going over there.

They won a State Championship last year and you have to think they will take a step back this year. That road schedule is brutal.

They will be battle tested and will be a tough out in the playoffs because of the winning culture they have there. This is one of the better GISA programs in the state. They have tremendous financial support there.”

Barring key injuries this team can make another deep playoff run.

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch May 25

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch May 25
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