Sep. 22—The Buccaneers aren't done running with the big boys quite yet.
No. 10 McIntosh County Academy (3-1) will play its third and final contest against a program from a higher classification when it hosts Bradwell Institute (0-4) of Class 5A at 7:30 p.m. Friday at The Ship.
Although MCA rose into the rankings for the first time since 2017, the Class A, Division II program has only faced one other team from the GHSA's Single A — last week against Lanier County. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers have won games against 3A Johnson and FHSAA's West Nassau in between a 10-point loss to 6A Glynn Academy.
Although the Buccaneers enter the matchup favorited over a Tigers program that has lost 25 straight games dating back to October 2019, MCA head coach Bradley Warren knows his team can't afford to take Bradwell Institute lightly.
"Bradwell is a 5A school, and that's always scary," Warren said. "You say, 'Well, they're not doing well in their classification right now,' but if they were in Single A, how would they be doing? That's going to be a challenge because they've got some really good athletes, and I know they're going to come over here and play hard."
The Tigers haven't played a Single A school since a 35-6 victory over Warren County in 2017, when the program went a perfect 6-0 in non-region play before dropping four straight to end the season.
If Bradwell is to snap its streak of futility, it will have to find a spark on offense against a McIntosh County Academy defense that has been among the best in Class A, Division II. The Buccaneers have held opponents to an average of just 13 points per game — the sixth-fewest in the classification.
Meanwhile, Bradwell Institute has struggled to get much going offensively, averaging just 235 yards of total offense and fewer than nine points per game.
On offense, the Buccaneers are finding their footing behind Monte Stokes, who has rushed for 233 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries over the past two weeks.
"The offense didn't really have many opportunities last week in the first half," Warren said. "We only had 11 plays in the first half. It was really a lightning fast first half that we helped prolong and extend drives with some penalties and mishaps.
"But then in the second half, the offense had the opportunity to play well, and did."