Brantley takes on McKenzie

David Lowery came to Brantley 10 years ago and has built the program to one of the best in the state. During his tenure, the Bulldogs are 103-20. They have been to the playoffs every year and only once lost in the first round. They played for the championship in 1999 and 2005. Is this the year Lowery gets the trophy?

The Bulldogs are off to barking start outscoring opponents 277 to 51. They have scored less than 48 points only once in a 21-6 victory over 3A Luverne to start the season.

Part of the success is their phenomenal master of everything, Anthony Gulley. Standing at 5-11, 180 pounds, the All-State baseball star is equally adept on the gridiron. Gulley has scored touchdowns in better than a third of his touches this season.

Second-ranked Brantley 6-0 (4-0) will travel this week to take on sixth ranked McKenzie 6-0 (4-0).

We asked Lowery what the opposition will do to stop Gulley. "People start looking at us and they try to find ways to stop him," he said. "Fortunately we've been able to get him in the open field and get him some touches where he can move."

"He has incredible numbers so far. I think he is averaging right around 28 yards a touch, whether it's a punt return, kick-off, rushing or receiving. He's really had very few touches, but with the ones he's had he has done a lot with them. He already has 19 touchdowns, and that is with only 51 total touches for the year. His percentage is pretty good."

Pretty good indeed. Last season Gulley rushed for 1,604 yards on 167 carries with 18 touchdowns. He caught 11 passes for 173 yards and four scores. He completed eight of 12 passing attempts for 127 yards and four touchdowns.

That's not the end of it. He had five kick returns for 158 yards and a touchdown. As a punt receiver he posted 432 yards with three scores. Defensively, he had 37 solo tackles, five interceptions, returning one for a touchdown and recovered two fumbles.

Gulley is hearing from Jacksonville State Troy and Auburn. The coach is receiving a lot of requests for film.

Gulley has a nose for the ball. He certainly knows what to do with it when he gets it in his hands, but there might be more to the story.

Zach Ballard
"He's a phenomenal athlete," Lowery explains. "But I think you have to give our guys credit that are blocking for him too. We've got a lot of guys to help him get open and create running lanes for him. He has teammates that aren't selfish and don't worry about him getting those kind of yards and those kind of numbers. They are all on the same page, and their first concern is to win."

Brantley's offensive line consists of only one senior, center Zach Ballard (5-10, 230 pounds).

The rest of the line are juniors, right guard Jarred Hall (6-1, 260 pounds), right tackle.

Austin Mitchell (6-0, 260 pounds), left guard is Freeman Walker (5-11, 195 pounds) and left tackle Dillion Motes (6-0, 245 pounds).

Jarred Hall
"Chase Hall (quarterback) had a real good year starting as a sophomore last year," Lowery said. "This year he's had a great year passing. I think we are over 800 yards which, for us, that is a lot because we are predominantly a run team."

"He has done a real good job of being a leader on the field, and he is also playing both ways. He doesn't get much of a break where he can come over and talk a lot. He is staying busy for us, but he's doing a great job on both sides of the ball."

We asked the coach about the week's practice. "Yesterday (Wednesday) was real wet. We got soaked, but that's okay, we needed some rain. We've had a good week of practice, and hopefully a week of good preparation will lead to a good night," Lowery explained.

Brantley is still down the same lone player who has been out for a month, so they are okay on that front.

Lowery talked about the test they face this week, "We are going to have to play really good on defense. McKenzie has a lot of good skill people, they throw it and run it so we are going to have to a good night on defense to slow them down. Along with that, offensively, we've got to be able to control the football by running the ball. Keep them off the field."

"Their strength is their offense and their team speed."

The Brantley supporters should be out in full force to rally their team on the road. "We travel real well," Lowery said.

Lowery isn't quiet ready to concede this game is for the region 2 title, "If we win, we still have Geneva County next week. They played McKenzie right down to the wire (25-21)."

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