Brandon Derrick

Gator Call

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Franklin Stephens left Ware County and headed to the Cobb County school system last week. By doing so he left Ware looking for a football coach pretty late in the game.

While everyone else in the state is getting ready for spring football practice, Ware County has to hire a new football coach.

When a job like Ware opens up the rumor mill starts churning. Rumors fly left and right about who has applied and who might apply.

Another rumor is Ware has had 60 people apply for the opening in the past week. The internet is buzzing with big name coach sightings in Waycross.

What is special about the Ware County job? I had a retired school administrator tell me that the Ware job is the best job in southeast Georgia. Let’s take a look at the reasons why:

1.Talent: Ware County is loaded with talented athletes. Football is king in the County and Ware for the last 20 years has been a consistent winner making it to the state title game twice, many deep playoff runs, and is always a region title contender.

A new coach comes into a stacked roster with a generational player at QB, who is a rising sophomore. The Gators have speed and size everywhere. Not many jobs have the talent pool of Ware.

2.Pay: The Ware job is one of the top paying jobs in this area. The assistants are paid above scale, and football is a priority. Football pays the bills and it is invested in heavily.

3.Support: The Gators have a dedicated fan base, a renovation taking place in a historic 10,000 seat stadium and an active booster club that raises a lot of funds that support the football program.

4.Location: Ware County is within one hour of the beach, major airport and metropolitan center in Jacksonville. The Gators are in a region alignment that sets them up to win big every season.

Now let’s have some fun with speculating who would be a good candidate for this job from our area. Keep in mind I am SPECULATING here folks.

Brandon Derrick/Frederica Academy: Fresh off of a state title, Derrick can’t do much more on St. Simons Island.

The challenge at Frederica is bringing in football players to keep the numbers up.

Derrick would have JaShawn Sheffield and Jaylin Simpson type talent, or better coming through the Ware program every year. He is a good coach, who needs to land a big job like Ware. Thomas County Central hired their head man from Valwood. The precedent is there. He needs his shot.

Sean Pender/Brunswick High: The Air Raid offense in Waycross is scary to think about. The Gators put up record numbers, that still stand today, from his stint as offensive coordinator in the late 1990’s.

Ware is a one-school county and you don’t have to worry about the talent in the county being divided between three schools.

Pender knows how Ware County operates better than anyone. Mrs. Pender loves the Golden Isles however.

Rocky Hidalgo/Glynn Academy: If you can’t beat them hire them, right? The Rock is 4-2 against Ware and physically beat up the Gators in those 4 wins.

The man can coach and hires assistants better than anyone. Ware could match the money or give him a pay raise.

He would have elite talent at his disposal annually. Could he be lured away from the coast? If so, in 15 years he could have a statue of him outside of Memorial Stadium.

Jason Strickland/Pierce County: It is only a 10-mile drive to Waycross from Blackshear. The job would be a step up in classification and money for Strickland. He would be a great hire.

Pierce plays in the worst AAA region in the state, so the third-round trip in the playoffs last season could be the high-water mark there.

Tucker Pruitt/Fitzgerald: Pruitt is a good coach who could step in and win big right away at Ware. There is better talent and more money in Waycross than Fitzgerald. This could be a dream job for someone like Pruitt.

The Ware County job outside of Camden County may be the best job in South Georgia. Ware has the applicants to prove it.

Jason Bishop Show with Kipp Branch November 17

Jason Bishop Show with Kipp Branch November 17
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Knights Claim Another Region Title

By: Rich Bontrager

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

In an epic game between two bitter rivals, the Frederica Knights surprised many fans and sports reporters with a spectacular win against Bulloch Academy, 49-12.

Coming into this Region Championship matchup, the series between these two powerhouses stood at 2-2. In each of those four games, the home team had prevailed. This season, the Knights would arrive in Statesboro, GA and dominate in most all areas of the game.

What made the victory extra unique was that Frederica had 6 players not suited up due to injury and Jashawn Sheffield (SR. WR/Safety) was limited to only offensive plays due to a minor injury from last week’s John Milledge loss.

The Knights won the coin toss and elected to start on defense, as they have done all but one game this season. Coach Brandon Derrick trusted his defense to set the tone of the game and create short field position for his offensive squad. The defense did just that.

The Knights would score 14 unanswered points in the first half. First on a 3-yard rushing TD by Jaylin Simpson (Sr. QB) and then again on a 13-yard run by Isaiah Jackson (Sr. RB). Both extra-point kicks were good by Logan Bauer (Sr. K).

In fact, Bauer would kick a perfect game and go 7 for 7, something he had never done all season.

The Knight’s defensive gave Bulloch’s offense moments of frustration. Several times the Gators carried the ball into the “red zone” only to turn the ball over on downs, or miss a field goal.

The Knight’s defense gave up plenty of rushing yards, but always found a way to shut down Bulloch’s offensive machine. Including a big first half-sack by Will Counts (So., DL).

While the Knights would miss yet another scoring opportunity just before halftime, they scored on the first offensive play of the second half as Denver Anthony (Jr., RB) scored on a 60-yard rushing play.

A few plays later, Harry Veal (Sr., LB) recovered a bad lateral by Don Aarons of the Gators. Moments later, Denver Anthony ran for his second TD (16 yds) in less than 2 minutes of the third quarter play. Those scores put Frederica up 28-0.

The defense continued to set up the offense well as Josh Meadow’s made a big 4th down stop on Bulloch and Will Thompson would sack QB Don Aarons.

In total the Knights scored 21 points in the third quarter, and an additional 14 in the fourth.

One of the of most significant factors in getting such a disproportionate win over such

an intense rival like Bulloch was the “team’s unity”, said Coach Brandon Derrick after the game. “Yes, we made mental mistakes late in the game, but our team played extremely well as a unit, and for one another”, he said.

With the Region Championship title, Frederica will enjoy a bye week before beginning playoff action at home on, Friday, November, 16th.

The Knights will have home field advantage throughout the regional play. Along with home field advantage, Frederica will be able to get the six injured and sick players healed up as the “March to Mercer” officially gets underway.

With this win, the Knights conclude the regular season with a record of 7-3, and 4-0 in region play.

Frederica Academy Knights Coach’s Show August 8

Frederica Academy Knights Coach's Show August 8
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Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch Jan 20

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch Jan 20
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Frederica Falls

By: Alex Mathis

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

This was a heavyweight title fight. Two of the best teams in GISA went toe to toe the entire 48 minutes and unfortunately the Knights ended up with the short end of the stick.

The Knights saw their season end in the semifinals against the Valwood Valiants by the score of 14-10.

Frederica led the entire game until the final 25 seconds. Afterwards, an emotional Coach Brandon Derrick told his team that he was proud of them.

He was proud of all the work that they have put in since May and up to this point. He was proud of how they fought through adversity and proved so many people wrong.

He told his Knights to remember the feeling of defeat because this is the feeling that will drive this team next year. The Knights get to match up against the Valiants week 1 next year.

Frederica’s offense was outstanding this season. The offensive line helped pave the way to nearly 350 yards a game.

Jaylin Simpson rushed for over 900 yards and Isaiah Jackson rushed for over 650 yards.

The Knights had a lot of success on the ground throughout the season. Frederica was able to have some success in the air as well as Simpson threw for over 800 yards during the season. These stats include missing two games because of Hurricane Irma.

Jashawn Sheffield led the Knights in the receiving category. He had over 500 yards on the year. Rett Thompson and Trace Dorminy also did a great job helping lead the way for rushers.

Frederica’s defense had its ups and downs during the season but seemed to peak at the right time. The Knights greatest outing came in the final game against the Valiants.

The Knights held the Valiants scoreless for 46 minutes. Valwood is a team that normally averages close to 40 points a game.

Frederica’s defense was led by stud linebacker Harry Veal. Veal was as physical as it gets all season long.

Deke Jernigan was also able to make a major impact from the linebacker position. Jernigan and Veal are a duo that will be a force to reckon with next year.

Santana Clark, Trace Dorminy, Jashawn Sheffield, and Rett Thompson also played great at the outside linebacker position during the season.

Cameron Gardner, Tyler Pierce, and Cole Hinson did a great job on the defensive line this season. They all made timely plays during the season.

Frederica’s secondary struggled at times during the season but finished the season well.

The injury to Patrick Brunson really changed the way Coach Burkett’s secondary looked.

Jaylin Simpson had to move to safety and JT Elliott had to move there as well. They were able to make a lot of plays during the season. The cornerback position was played by a lot of players including Avery Cobb, Josh Meadows, Jashawn Sheffield, Jackson Wetzler, and Isaiah Jackson.

The Knights finished their season 7-4(Missed two games due to hurricane). Frederica’s schedule does not get any easier next season.

They start the season off with Valwood and they also have Charlton County and possibly Brantley County on their schedule next year.

Coach Derrick knows how to get the best out of his players and next year will be no different.

The Knights will be hungrier next year. If you are a part of the Frederica family, you surely have a bad taste in your mouth after the way things ended last night.

The Knights lost that game themselves and will use their disappointment to fuel them next season.

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch Oct 28

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch Oct 28
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Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch Sept 23

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch Sept 23
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Brandon Derrick Show Sept 6

Brandon Derrick Show Sept 6
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Brandon Derrick Show August 30

Brandon Derrick Show August 30
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