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Top Ranked SCISA 8-Man Andrew Jackson Academy Building On Their 8-man Dynasty With A Blend Of Old & New

Top ranked Andrew Jackson Academy Building On Their 8-man Dynasty With A Blend Of Old & New

By Billy G. Baker

Publisher

Ehrhardt—After top ranked Andrew Jackson Academy went 13-0 and won a fourth SCISA 8-man state title in five years last year, first year head coach Jason Peek surely relished sending his son Colyn, senior quarterback on the team, out into the real world with some great scrap book memories.

Coach Peek enjoyed helping his alma mater keep the tradition alive with another title last year so much he decided to come back and head coach again this season. The consistency of winning and hard-nose power football that is the brand of the AJA football program has continued through four games of the 2020 with the Warriors dominating their first opponents by the culmination of 208-50.

From his office in mid-September Coach Peek is meeting with his assistants getting prepared for their road game with Wardlaw Academy. He says the new chosen mascot of Warriors “has a good ring to it” and that he fully supported the board of AJA changing from the old mascot of Confederates over the summer.

Coach Peek laments the fact the program graduated 10 players from a 13-0 state title team in 2019. ‘We have the challenge of meshing our veteran players with our newcomers and getting them to buy into the culture of what we are doing in our football program,” said Coach Peek. “Our way of doing things has proven to be successful and we need all our new players to buy into what we are teaching.”    

The Warriors got a quality transfer OL from Patrick Henry named Boyd Gleaton (6-2, 290) along with sophomore TE Houston Crews, a Wade Hampton transfer, who moves well with a good forward push. Sophomore Moye Brandt transferred back to AJA after one year in Barnwell to give depth at running back and in the secondary. Carson Cone, a transfer from Barnwell will see a lot of action at OL and TB.   

The only returner in the OL is senior leader Kevin Barnes, a four-year starter who is moving to center and flips to DE. Freshman Tollie Flickling will start at guard beside Gleaton.  The other starting end on offense is sophomore Evan Creswell.  Chase Carson returns to add depth in the back field and will flip to defense also.    

A pair of talented juniors return in Bug Brunson who returns as the quarterback starter after filling in for Peek his freshman year after Peek had a knee injury and he helped lead the team to a state title. Top junior prospect Jonathan Schaffer (6-3, 245, 4.6) will start at fullback and also control the middle on defense at middle linebacker. Senior Tucker Cook (235) is also a full back who flips to nose guard on defense.  Barnes is at the other defensive end spot and Nate Jones will also start in the defensive front and he is a transfer from Wade Hampton.

The other DL is Barnes at one end and Barnwell transfer Carson Cone (6-3, 180, 4.5) is an outside LB along with Chase Carson who will start beside Schaffer. Sophomore Reese Donehue   will join Brandt in the secondary.

Some key reserves include the brother duo of Carter and Connor Loadholt who were key players on the junior varsity last year and they are up and coming defensive backs in the Warriors program. Senior Barrett Rentz (6-3, 310) will contribute at NG and sophomore DL Johnson will contribute at DE and TE. Other key reserves include senior DL Kolby Kitrell and senior OG Brian Carter.       

     The Warriors started of the season with a 48-16 win on the road at Northside Christian, took a 44-14 road win against Wardlaw Academy in week two, and poured it on in front of the home crowd with a 56-14 win over rival Jefferson Davis Academy in a week three home opener. Last week every player on the roster got their uniforms dirty with extensive playing time in a 62-6 win over Faith Christian on the road.    

In week five AJA is preparing to host Charleston Collegiate (2-4) who lost last week to undefeated Richard Winn 54-6. Speaking of “Peeking Ahead” some AJA fans have already circled October, 30 and it is not to remind them to buy Halloween candy. That is likely the day the winner of the AJA vs. Holly Hill Academy winner wins the region and claims a top seeding for the playoffs that start a week later.

“Our goal all along is to make it to the playoffs and go on a four- game win streak to win the championship,” said Coach Peek. “We know our last regular season game of the season is against Holly Hill Academy (4-0) and both teams might meet still undefeated competing for a region title. They have all of their players back so we know they are going to be a quality opponent and we will be playing at their place on October, 30.”

Against Faith Christian, Schaffer missed the game nursing a high ankle sprain, Andrew Jackson Academy won their 65th game out of their last 66 played, over a five- year span, in dominating fashion 62-6.

AJA led 40-0 after the first period and pushed that lead to 54-0 at the half. In the second half there were two 8- minute continuous clocks and the Warriors played mainly second team players in the final half.

“We were able to get a lot of different players in the game tonight and we knew Faith Christian was a young team and we had no issues with two 8-minute quarters in the second half,” said head AJA coach Jason Peek.  “We still feel like we have the makings of a championship team but we are not there yet. There is a lot of football yet to be played. We should have Schaffer back for the Clarendon Hall game in two weeks.”

Brunson, a solid baseball prospect, rushed for 42 yards and two touchdowns in the game. He completed three of five passes for 26 yards. Cone gained 42 yards on seven carries with two scores and Cone had three rushes for 63 yards and two scores.  DL Johnson had four carries for 45 yards. Brandt, extremely talented up and coming musician, gained 31 yards and scored a touchdown.

On the tackle index the action was spread around for the Warriors also. Cone led the team with five tackles but several Warriors had four tackles including four- year starter Kevin Barnes, Barrett Rentz, Brandt, and Chase Carson. Freshman corner back Carter Loadholt had a leaping interception in the second half for the Warriors and DL Johnson recovered an on sides kick and Cone got a fumble recovery that set up the Warriors second score early in the first quarter. Senior fullback/nose guard Tucker Carson also had several nice runs and several tackles during the game. 

Other players on the AJA team who saw action in the game included sophomore tight- end Houston Crews, sophomore tight-end Evan Creswell, senior offensive guard Brian Carter, senior defensive end Nathan Jones, freshman offensive guard Tollie Fickling, senior defensive linemen Kolby Kitrell, and junior two-way lineman Boyd Gleaton.        

“We spread the ball around tonight (against Faith Christian) and all out backs got to play and contribute,” said Coach Peek. “We came out of the game injury free and we are focused now on another good week of practice before we host Charleston Collegiate next week and then Clarendon Hall in two weeks.”

   A few highlights from games played earlier this season included Carson Cone, Bug Brunson, and Jonathan Schaffer playing key roles in the win over JDA when each player scored three touchdowns.

Against JDA Schaffer led the team in rushing with 89 yards on six caries and two scores. Brunson added 70 yards on 12 totes and hit pay-dirt twice while Cone netted out 70 yards on six carries with three touchdowns.  Brunson was also effective passing the ball against the raiders completing six-of-nine passes for 128 yards a score.

Against JDA Cone led the defense with 10 tackles, middle LB Schaffer had 8, and veteran seniors Cook (DE) and Barnes (DE) had four stops each.  

In the 44-14 win over Wardlaw Academy on September, 11 Carson, Schaffer, and Reece Donahue combined for 204 rushing yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns. Brunson was six-of-seven for 90 yards in the air and a touchdown. Donahue had two catches for 53 yards and one touchdown to lead in reception yardage.

The stop troops against Wardlaw were led by Carson Cone with 13 total tackles. Carson came through with six hits and Schaffer and Cook contributed with five stops each. An exciting play happened in the game when Brunson enjoyed a 55-yard pick six touchdown. Nate Jones also had an interception against Wardlaw.

In the season opener resulting in a 48-16-win Schaffer got his junior season started off right by rushing for 163 yards on 11 carries while Brunson was perfect on four-of-four passing for 115 yards and a touchdown. Carson had 108 yards on just five carries.

Through four games Brunson has completed 20 of 25 passes for 349 yards and four touchdowns. His quarterback rating is an impressive 160.4. The top rusher is Schaffer, who has a body of an NFL H-back already and he has gained 319 yards on 30 carries with three touchdowns. In the reception’s category Carson has six catches on the season for a team leading 148 yards followed by Donehue with four catches for 97 yards and a touchdown. Cone has caught balls for 90 yards and two touchdowns.

On defense Cone is way out-front with 35 hits with Schaffer in the middle claiming 22 stops in less game due to an injury. Barnes is chipping gin 15 tackles from his end slot while Cook playing at nose guard has 13 tackles. Donehue (CB) and Carson each have 11 tackles on the season to date.

Coach Peek is assisted by Jonathan Barnes, Scott Brunson, Chad Gleaton, and Jon Schaffer.   

 

 

 

 


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