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.
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.