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.”
By: Jeff Doke
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
To put it mildly, the 2021 season opener for the Frederica Knights was a mixed bag.
On the plus side, the Knights were victorious, defeating their longtime rivals, the Valwood Valiants to the tune of 27-6.
On the downside, the already short-staffed team suffered a significant injury with starting quarterback Thomas Veal breaking his non-throwing arm.
The game started with a long drive from the visiting Valiants. Their opening drive covered 46 yards, notched three first downs, and ate almost half of the quarter off the clock.
The Knights defense bent but didn’t break, and the drive ended on the first of several bad snaps going over the head of the Valwood quarterback.
WR/DB Bryce “Ice” Reilly, who gave the Frederica faithful a present playing on his birthday, made his presence known early & often on the opening drive with his first three tackles of the night. He would at least double that total by the end of the game, as well as tacking on a fumble recovery, an interception, and a touchdown reception. Happy birthday, indeed!
Momentum was difficult to establish early, with the two squads swapping 3 & out drives and a 2 & out from Frederica ending on an interception.
Valwood got on the board first with a 40-yard drive, culminating with a 3-yard QB sneak on the third play of the second quarter.
After that, it became the Jordan Triplett show.
After a solid 13 yd kick return from freshman Hayes Carter, Triplett broke off his first big run of the night, scampering 33 yards to set up a 23-yard touchdown pass four plays later on 4th down from Veal to Triplett, putting the Knights in the lead for good, 7-6
By the end of the half, “The River” Jordan had put up 88 yards on the ground, and Veal had thrown a TD and an INT. Sophomore DL Hamp Thompson evened the turnovers at one apiece with a strip sack in the final moments of the 2nd Quarter.
The first drive after the half saw the return of the “Cherokee & Apache” wildcat formations and a steady stream of Jordan Triplett runs. The 12-play drive would burn more than half of the quarter, Triplett would add another 40 yards to his total, and Veal tossed his second TD of the night, this time to Bryce Reilly.
The next two Valwood drives in the 3rd would end in fumbles, recovered by Reilly and Veal respectively.
To start the 4th, Valwood was stringing together their first extended drive since the 1st. An interception by Reilly and stacked penalties for unnecessary roughness & unsportsmanlike conduct ended that and set the Knights up at the Valwood 35-yard line.
Two runs from Veal and five from Triplett led to the final score of the night, a nimble 4-yard run thru traffic from #4.
Unofficially, Jordan Triplett had 176 yards on the ground with two TD runs and one TD reception for 23 yards.
Before the injury late in the 4th, Thomas Veal had thrown for two TDs on a mere 35 yards, and had added a fumble recovery on defense.
The injury to his non-throwing arm will be further assessed, but initial speculation is that it will cost the senior 6 weeks of recovery time. That, more than anything is the big takeaway from the night.
With Coach Derrick’s squad coming into the game with only 21 players dressed, the loss of Veal will be noticeable and how Coach Derrick and his staff adapt will be a challenge to say the least.
Albeit a challenge they have overcome before.