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Andrew Jackson High School
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Andrew Jackson Academy Using Bye Week To Nurse Injuries, Tweak Offense

By Billy G. Baker

Publisher

Ehrhardt—Win 35 straight football games, and back-to-back SCISA 8-man state titles and you can just imagine how some teams get pumped up to play Andrew Jackson Academy hoping to be that team that took down the Dynasty Maker.

In their final two games of their 9-0 regular season AJA got hard-nosed and well contested games from Clarendon Hall, in a come from behind 40-35 win, and then in their regular season finale against Patrick Henry the Confederates held on to win 38-34 after building a 32-6 lead at the half.

Against Clarendon Hall sophomore running back Trey Pulaski led AJA rushers with 231 yards on 23 carries and four touchdowns. Senior fullback Bailey “Bull” Ackerman (5-11, 225) had 155 yards on 27 carries and he continues to get small college recruiting interest due to his great blocking ability and straight ahead running ability.

Sophomore quarterback Colyn Peek had a good game against the Saints gaining 113 yards on 8 carries and two touchdowns. Peek also loosened up the defense by completing three of four passes for 44 yards. His favorite target was 8th grader Jonathan Schaffer (6-1, 175) who had 30 yards in receptions. Schaffer, after being scouted twice by the HSSR, is considered among the top 8th grade football/baseball prospects in South Carolina as he continues to develop.

On defense, lineman/outside linebacker Jordan Lee led the stop troops with 12 tackles followed by Ackerman with 9 and talented sophomore Chandler Hayden (6-1, 175) played well with 8 tackles. Banks Wallace got six tackles in the defensive front and Schaffer and Pulaski had five hits each with Drake Mathias chipping with four.

Head coach Willie Craven said all of AJA’s opponents have been fired up, hoping to take down the impressive win streak. “What are you talking about,” said Coach Craven, a 35 year coaching veteran who spent a career in the public schools assisting in programs at St. Johns (Bob Biggerstaff) and Walterboro/Colleton County (Leroy Riley). “Teams are getting fired up to play us and their fans are getting involved also. We are getting team’s best shots and in a lot of ways we are fortunate to still be undefeated.”

Coach Craven said his team has battled through injuries. He stresses that despite AJA being 9-0, they are a very young team starting four sophomores and they only have two starting seniors on the team. They are Bailey, a “Player of the Year” candidate along with all-state candidate Jordan Lee who plays offensive guard and outside linebacker on defense. Lee can also fill in at running back if needed.

“In addition to starting the four sophomores we are playing a lot of kids who didn’t even play last year,” said Coach Craven. “At times this season we have been our own worst enemy by getting penalties that have called back touchdowns, or big plays. In our offense, and with our style of running the football, penalties just kill us.”

AJA has welcomed a bye week as the SCISA playoffs began on Nov., 3rd to rest up some injuries and to also add a few wrinkles to the offense. “I certainly don’t want to tip our hat in the playoffs but we have to tweak some things on our offense to keep teams from stacking the box so much,” said Coach Craven. “Just wait and see, we are trying to come up with some new things teams have not seen us do before.”

Since our last report AJA has also defeated Beaufort Academy 36-16.

Ackerman continues to lead the team in rushing with 1,616 net yards on 190 carries and he has scored 21 touchdowns. “Bailey is a marked man every time the ball is hiked and he has three or four defenders coming right at him on every play,” said Coach Craven. “This has allowed our tailback Trey Pulaski to have a good season running the ball also. Bailey is also a good blocker coming through the hole in front of Trey. Bailey has played through an issue with his ankle and he has made some great runs for us.”

Pulaski, just a sophomore, has 1,391 yards on 155 carries and 19 touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Colyn Peek has netted 517 yards on 82 carries and he has scored 10 touchdowns. “Colyn understands our offense so well and he is like having a coach on the field,” said Coach Craven. “He understands what every player is supposed to be doing on every play.”

One of the team’s more versatile players is the other senior starter on the team Jordan Lee. Lee filled in nicely for Pulaski when he missed two games at the start of the season with an injury. He is the starting offensive guard on offense and a top flight linebacker on defense where he leads the team in tackles with 60. Lee has also rushed for 161 yards on 29 carries and he has scored four times.

Talented junior Connor Gleaton (6-4, 190) missed the Patrick Henry game due to injury and he leads the team in touchdown receptions as a tight end and he also has 28 tackles on defense where he defends against the deep ball. “Connor has growth plate issues in his hips and his status could vary from week to week for us and we really need him in the line-up,” said Coach Craven. “He defends well in the secondary and he is a big target when we do throw the ball.”

The offensive line is anchored by Wallace at center and he is grandson of Hall of Fame retired prep coach Buddy Wallace. The guards are junior Nick Fail and Lee with Hayden (6-1, 160) the other tight end. Bryce Waltz Schaffer also plays tight end.

On defense besides top tackler Lee you have Fail, Wallace, and Lee playing in a three man front along with linebackers Pulaski, Ackerman, and Waltz. The corner backs are Gleaton and Hayden along with sophomore Drake Mathias who plays a lot.

Behind Lee on the tackle index are Ackerman with 56 stops, Wallace is at 44, Pulaski at 35 and Hayden and Gleaton each have 28. Fail is at 21, Mathias 18 and 6-9 Grayson Carter has 10 tackles.

“If we focus on what we are capable of doing and cut out the penalties and mental mistakes, we have as good a chance as anyone at winning another state title and that is certainly our goal,” said Coach Craven. “We are not a team that is going to score 70 or 80 points. Our objective is to drive the ball down the field, eat the clock, and play as fundamentally sound as we can on offense and defense.

“Trey has been averaging 200 yards rushing a game lately and Bailey has been blocking well and he can break one on any carry,” said Coach Craven. “We are using the bye week to add a wrinkle or two to our offense. “We have to play one game at a time with hopefully two games left in our season. If we minimize mistakes and improve on what we have been doing we should be okay.”

Chase Carson and Mikey Templeton were recently moved up from the jayvee along with Schaffer. Freshman offensive lineman Holden George and Kevin Barnes are also hard working members of the team.

 

 

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