Bulldogs traveling to Brentwood this week

Aug. 30—Week 3 of the 2023 season takes the GMC Prep football team on a short road trip to Sandersville Friday.

The Bulldogs (0-2) face off against the Brentwood War Eagles (1-1) in a clash of members from Georgia's two main high school athletic leagues, GMC Prep representing the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) and Brentwood toting the Georgia Independent Athletic Association (GIAA) banner.

The two schools separated by less than an hour's drive apart met four times back in the mid-1980s with the 'Dogs winning those first three contests. Brentwood won the fourth 10-7 before GMC Prep moved out of the private-school league for the GHSA.

The matchup went on hiatus for 35 years until last season, which saw the War Eagles win 27-16 here in Milledgeville. Like many games early in the 2022 campaign, that was a turnover-marred performance as GMC Prep gave the football away four times to Brentwood's one. The Bulldogs, under head coach Lee Coleman at the time, also had a kickoff returned for a touchdown that was called back for a penalty that night.

The 2023 Bulldogs will try to right those wrongs and the ones committed so far this season in an attempt to get their first win under new head coach Bobby Rhoades. It won't be a gimme.

"Offensively they're very balanced," Rhoades said of this week's opponent. "They run and throw the ball very well and they've got a really good running back that's hard to bring down. They've got a good young quarterback that does a good job back there. I think their balance presents issues."

A longtime traditional wing T team, the War Eagles in recent years have started opening things up offensively. They really opened things up in the 43-3 week 1 loss at John Milledge when they threw five interceptions to the talented Trojan secondary. Some issues were fixed and the competition level also took a step down when Brentwood traveled to Mount de Sales last week, defeating the GIAA Class 4A Cavaliers 28-13.

Now Adam Lord's Eagles prepare for an opponent in GMC Prep that has not reached double-digit scoring in either of its two regular season games. Rhoades sees it as players adjusting to a new system.

"We watch the film and very rarely do we say a play didn't have a chance," the head coach said. "We just aren't executing very well. I think it's a combination of a lot of different factors — execution for the most part. You need 11 guys going the right way every play, and we don't have a lot of plays where that's happening right now. It's up to me to get that fixed ... The teams we've got in our non-region schedule are very good. When you're playing good football teams you can't hurt yourself. That's what we've got to stop doing."

Effort can sometimes cover up missed assignments, and Rhoades saw improvement in that department last week against ACE. The defense forced multiple turnovers, so the hope is that the players continue building off that as the region schedule, which will determine whether or not a playoff berth is earned, approaches.

Kickoff between GMC Prep and Brentwood is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday in Sandersville.