Bulldogs fall to Leroy in quarterfinals

Published 1:15 pm Wednesday, November 29, 2023

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

In a Nov. 24 clash between two gridiron giants, the Brantley Bulldogs faced a tough defeat against the defending Class 1A state champions, the Leroy Bears. The Bulldogs fell short and ended their season as Leroy emerged victorious from the high-stakes AHSAA 1A quarterfinal with a score of 40-18.

Head Coach Roland Jones Jr. commended his team’s performance, acknowledging the challenging yet rewarding season.

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“The season was a roller coaster; it was up and down, but our kids found a way to fight through adversity and have a great ending after giving it their all against Leroy,” said Jones.

Jones praised the players’ dedication and improvement throughout the season, emphasizing Leroy’s formidable status with an undefeated record.

The Bulldogs paved their way to the quarterfinals by securing a hard-fought victory against the previously undefeated Loachapoka Indians. Bolstered by their defensive prowess and strategic finesse, the Brantley squad, led by captains Janyies Tyson, Kendrick Welch, Romeo Pressley, and Tyson Grant, entered the game against Leroy prepared to leave it all on the field.

The Bears, having triumphed over Georgiana with a 27-13 win in the second round, were determined to defend their championship title, and the stage was set for an intense match as both teams aimed to assert their dominance.

The contest unfolded with intensity in the first half, showcasing the Bulldogs’ resilience and determination. Despite their efforts, Brantley struggled to disrupt Leroy’s offensive rhythm. The Bears, capitalizing on their experience as defending state champions, maintained their momentum and eventually secured a 40-18 victory over the Bulldogs.

Despite the disappointment of his football journey at Brantley coming to an end, senior football player Tyson Grant expressed optimism about the future and the valuable lessons learned during his time on the team, acknowledging the pivotal roles played by his coaches.

“I have learned from my time playing for Brantley that there are hard times and great times but whether tough or great you cherish them the same and you can use those lessons in any aspect of life,” Grant said. “Playing for Brantley is like playing for your family, everyone is close and I want to thank all my coaches for the time, leadership, hard talks and support they have poured into me and my fellow seniors. They have helped shape me into the man I am today. My message to underclassmen is to cherish these moments. I know It’s cheesy to hear that these are some of the best moments of your life but they truly are. Slow down and soak it all up.”

After the tough loss, Jones praised the senior players for being great leaders who have put a lot of wins in their belt. He reminded the team to never forget where they come from and encouraged them to work hard at whatever path they take in life.

Looking ahead, Jones expressed optimism for Brantley’s football program, highlighting the promising talent among the younger players.

“The future is bright for Brantley Football,” Jones said. “We have a lot of young talent coming back to play and a lot of those guys got playing time and lots of practice this year. We will have to work really hard in the weightroom between now and next season’s first game. Next season started for us on Tuesday after the loss. I gave them 1 day off and the kids are excited and looking forward to building on the skills they have developed this year.”

As the Brantley Bulldogs bid farewell to a challenging yet memorable season, they do so with pride while remaining resilient, optimistic, and driven to build on their experiences, laying the groundwork for a promising future on the football field.