Linden readying for red hot Brantley

LINDEN — The last time Linden (11-1) and Brantley (12-0) clashed in the playoffs was 2009, a night in which the visiting Bulldogs tackled the Patriots one-yard shy of a potential game-tying touchdown. Brantley went on to win the Class 1A state championship two weeks later.

Unbeaten and barely scored upon, the 12-0 Bulldogs have designs on repeating that accomplishment this year as their path toward a potential fourth state title in school history once again runs right into Linden.

“They’re a typical David Lowery type team. They’re going to play great defense and they’re not going to do anything to beat themselves,” Linden head coach Andro Williams said of the Bulldogs. “They’re strong, fast and athletic and that’s in all phases of the game. We’re going to have to make sure what they tend to do.”

Brantley enters Friday’s contest having outscored opponents 631-33 on the season, a remarkable feat Williams said has been accomplished through with a balanced offense and a staunch defense.

“They’re balanced. They want to run the football for the most part, but they definitely don’t mind throwing it,” Williams said. “They only gave up 33 points all year. But if you go back and look at a lot of the years, even last year, they didn’t give up much more than that last year. They just look so much stronger. Their offense has a lot to do with what they give up because of the way they hit you so much and make teams do what they want them to do. They’re a team that is averaging about 52.6 points a game, only giving up 2.8 all year and led the state 1-6A in both those categories. They’re sitting there with about eight shutouts I think.”

The Bulldogs have not surrendered a single point since an Oct. 12 skirmish with McKenzie, a game in which they romped to a 68-7 victory. The defense is anchored by a five-man line that Williams said looks a lot like a something from a different era.

“They’re 5-2. They are old school with what they’re trying to do on defense. They sort of remind me of the early 90s or 80s in the way they play. They are disciplined.”

Offensively, Brantley relies heavily on the services of a bevy of skill position players and allows senior signal-caller Andrew Lowery to trigger the entire attack.

“They’ve got great depth too. They don’t necessarily have to sit on one or two people,” Williams said. “The quarterback, Andrew Lowery, he’s a coach’s son. He looks like he has matured a lot in one year.”

Williams likened what Brantley does offensively to the attack the Patriots have employed over in recent years.

“It’s sort of like looking in a mirror a lot of times. It’s sort of like preparing for us,” Williams said. “And you’ve got to be able to prepare for us within a lot of different angles. It makes it tough.”

While Brantley enters the game fresh off a 48-0 road win at Billingsley, the Patriots ready for the Bulldogs after a 46-0 second round victory over St. Jude, a performance that Williams found very encouraging.

“I thought we played with a little more of a sense of urgency about us. That’s the main thing,” Williams said. “That’s just always important, the energy you bring this type of year.”

Linden and Brantley are set for a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday night at Linden Athletic Field.