Dominant defense leads Brunswick into City Championship game

·5 min read

Sep. 22—A 16-game regular season win streak, the top scoring defense in Class 6A, and an offense brimming with big-play potential, on paper Brunswick High has the ingredients to roll to a third straight victory in the City Championship game against crosstown rival Glynn Academy.

But games aren't played on paper, especially when the Pirates (4-0) and Terrors (2-2) get together. Anything is in play when Battle Between the Bricks kicks off at Glynn County Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Brunswick enters the annual rivalry game amid the best stretch for the program since the late 90s. For the second straight year, the Pirates are off to a dominant start to the season, and they find themselves just outside the top 10 rankings in the classification.

Glynn, on the other hand, has had an uneven run through non-region, winning an exciting overtime thriller in its opener and improving to 2-0 before dropping back-to-back contests headed into a bye.

However, recent history has shown records don't mean much when the teams take the field.

Over the past six years, the largest margin of victory in a City Championship game was a 13-point victory by Glynn Academy in 2017, but the average has been fewer than six points. Each of the last three seasons, the Battle Between the Bricks has been decided by just three points.

"It doesn't matter what the records are," said Brunswick head coach Garrett Grady. "I think both sides play extremely hard this game. These kids are all in this community together, and I think to play against each other for that amount of time, it's a true rivalry game. It's an emotional game. Going back to every single game I've been here for six years, I think it's been a seven points or less game, and that's crazy.

"It doesn't matter on paper who's best going into the game or whatever. This game is always a dogfight. It's exciting, it's a championship, and that's what a rivalry game is supposed to be about."

Regardless, it's undeniable the Pirates are the favorite to win a third straight City Championship, which would retire the current trophy. The Maxwell Ratings give BHS an 18-point edge over GA — a margin Brunswick has not won by since 2013.

Still, there is certainly reason to believe the Pirates win big, namely their Black Flag defense, which has proven to be one of the best units in the state this season.

Through four games, Brunswick has allowed just 6.5 points per game — the fewest in Class 6A. A week ago, BHS recorded its first shutout of the season against Islands while holding the visitors to just 10 total yards on the night.

Defensive linemen Ka'Shawn Thomas, Jordan Jimmerson and River Creel have helped the Pirates control the line of scrimmage while outside backers Devin Smith and Lionel Twitty wreck havoc on the edge and interior linebackers J'shawn Towns and Zion Turner clean up things inside the tackles.

On the back end, Keon Leggett has developed into a shutdown corner on one side, and Tavion Gadson has entered the lineup due to injuries and made an immediate impact. Ivan Johnson has also made some big plays from his spot at safety.

But Glynn Academy has the weapons to test the Black Flag.

Quarterback Tyler Devlin can hurt defenses with both his arm and his legs, especially when looking towards 6-foot-5 receiver David Prince, who leads the Terrors with nine receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

Greg Peacock can also take the ball the distance any time he touches it. The sophomore back has tallied 334 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns this season.

"I think David Prince, Tyler Devlin and Greg Peacock are phenomenal athletes, and you've definitely got to find out where they are on the field offensively," Grady said. "They make plays. Prince plays a little bit of defense; I haven't seen him lately, but he will. Peacock can be put back there at any time — he's a great athlete. And then Devlin, he's a tough quarterback. He makes some throws, and then he can get some stuff with his legs. He's a heck of an athlete."

On offense, Brunswick will look to build off a well-rounded performance that saw the team pass for 173 yards and three scores on just nine attempts while racking up 200 yards and four more touchdowns on the ground.

The dynamic Terry Mitchell (12 receptions, 270 yards, three touchdowns) has been the preferred target of quarterback JR Elkins, and four different players have rushed for at least 125 yards.

But the Pirates have also turned the ball over six times already this season, which could come back to bite the team in a close game.

Brunswick must play its best ball if it hopes to keep rolling into region play.

"I told these guys in our meeting, it's goal opportunity No. 1 — it's time for a championship," Grady said. "The City Championship is on the line, and it's the beginning of the play of the region. When it comes down to it, people are fighting for seeding, for homefield advantage for the playoffs, and I think that's very important."