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Knights to take on AA Piedmont

POSTED: August 27, 2014 2:00 p.m.

Bethlehem Christian Academy’s Knights fought through a difficult loss Friday night when they opened their season with a 62-32 defeat at the hands of Macon’s Windsor Academy, but last week’s loss is just that: last week’s problem.

This week’s Knights have to take their first road trip to Monticello where they will take on the Piedmont Academy Cougars (1-0, 0-0 GISA Region 1-AA). 

Piedmont and Windsor seem to share a few common themes among them, as both schools enter 2014 after beleaguered campaigns last season and both schools welcome new head coaches. 

After five extremely successful seasons under Rhett Farmer, which included a 26-game winning streak and two consecutive state championships in 2010 and 2011, the Cougars welcome Wes Tanner to his first season leading Piedmont football. 

Tanner’s program has already gotten off to a good start with a 14-7 win over GISA 4-AAA’s Gatewood School out of Eatonton, and Gatewood was a playoff team in Class-AA last season. 

Coach Farmer’s final season with the school was a middling 3-7-1 season, which featured a rare 20-20 tie in the season opener against the Westwood School, but a 2-1 region record put the Cougars into the first round of the playoffs where they would lose 38-31 to the Brookwood School out of Thomasville.

Piedmont has a reputation as one of the better schools in GISA Class-AA, even though they have struggled to live up to that reputation over the last two seasons with consecutive losing records for the first time since 2000.

The Knights of BCA (0-1, 0-0 GISA Region 1-AAA) will bring their young program into Monticello without a win, but they will also bring with them the knowledge that they can move the ball effectively on the ground.

Bethlehem racked up more than 300 yards against Windsor, despite losing by 30 points. Without a handful of explosive plays, blown defensive assignments and costly turnovers, BCA’s punishing ground game likely could have turned the scoreboard around Friday night. 

Graham Doolittle, the lead rusher for Bethlehem, brought in more than two thirds of the yardage total Friday night and three runs of more than 20 yards. In addition to his monster yardage, Doolittle brought in two of BCA’s touchdowns. 

The Knights also called on Chris Ratterree for a handful of runs as he grabbed 104 yards on eight attempts with two touchdowns. 

That Bethlehem’s offense can produce is nothing new. The 2013 edition scored more than 25 points in six games and scored more than 40 points in three games. Unfortunately, the story of allowing explosive plays and timely turnovers is also a holdover from last season, and it shows on the scoreboard.

On five separate occasions, exactly half of last season’s games, BCA allowed opponents to score more than 40 points. They allowed more than 60 points twice. 

The key for Bethlehem in Friday’s game is simple. The Knights need to keep running the ball effectively, which they can do, and they need to limit mistakes on both sides of the ball. While that sounds obvious enough, the offense for Bethlehem knows how to produce yards and points. 

Even when trailing by a substantial amount, Bethlehem knows how to keep the ball moving. If the Knights can just do that without being down, then they might can even out their record for 2014 and come away from this road contest with a win. 

After the game at Piedmont Academy, BCA will travel to John Milledge Academy in Milledgeville for their final non-region game of the year. The Knights will open region play at home on Sep. 12 against Dominion Christian. 

Once BCA reaches the region schedule, they will not face a team older than four years for the rest of the season. All three of BCA's non-region opponents established football programs before 1975.



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