By SAM McGAW
HUNTINGTON LEARNING CENTER GAME OF THE WEEK
Franklin Road Academy (3-4, 2-0) at Battle Ground Academy (7-1, 1-1), 6:30 p.m. Thursday*
The Battle Ground Academy Wildcats have been cruising since they lost to Christ Presbyterian Academy in Week 5.
The Wildcats have outscored their last three opponents 131-12. This Thursday, they aim to keep rolling against rival Franklin Road Academy in a Division II-AA Middle Region clash.
“The game against CPA was definitely a learning experience for us,” BGA quarterback Drew Martin said. “This team is probably closer than ever. We’ve definitely bounced back from that game.”
Martin has passed for 568 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions over the last three weeks, despite attempting only 22 throws over the past two games due to blowouts.
He has 1,766 passing yards, 186 rushing yards, 25 touchdowns (6 run) and five interceptions this season.
“We want to give Drew as much time as possible, because once he gets time, he can do so many different things,” BGA center Robbie Kirkpatrick said. “He can hit any number of receivers, he can run the ball. I think when you give Drew time, he creates things out of nothing.”
Martin’s ability to distribute the ball has been vital to his success.
Receivers Tiy Reed, Ollie Reese, Jack Jewell and Kel Hawkins have been targeted at least 36 times apiece.
“We can all catch the ball and move in space,” Jewell said. “It’s good we have all of us, because if you take one of us away, there’s another one to throw to.”
Reese leads the group with 34 catches on 59 targets for 589 yards and seven touchdowns. Jewell has 38 catches for 498 yards and five scores, while Hawkins has 24 catches for 365 yards and four touchdowns. Reed has racked up 33 catches for 292 receiving yards and five total touchdowns (3 run).
“Since I have so guys, so many weapons, so many targets I can get the ball to…if you take one away, I’ll hit another one,” Martin stated. “It’s kind of pick your poison with our offense.”
Martin completed 8 of 12 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns in last year’s 38-7 win against FRA. FRA enters this week’s matchup allowing an average of 28.14 points per game.
“Speed and size are their biggest strengths,” BGA head coach Roc Batten said. “They’re big up front, but they have some guys that can run. They flow to the ball really well and they’re really aggressive. Their front is the key for them.”
FRA’s offense features a dynamic playmaker at quarterback in Eric Stoxstill-Diggs.
The senior has recorded 1,377 passing yards, 510 rushing yards, 20 touchdowns (8 run) and three interceptions.
“Unlike some quarterbacks they call multi-threat guys or dual-threat guys, when he’s scrambling he’s looking to throw,” Batten said. “He’s made several big plays in several games where he’s scrambling and running outside the pocket and making big throws. He has a big arm.”
Stoxstill-Diggs threw for 320 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in last week’s 56-21 loss against Columbia Academy.
His top weapons are receivers Lance Wilhoite (43 rec., 765 yds, 8 TDs), Canaan Catlett (21 rec., 340 yds, 4 TDs) and Riley Speed (19 rec., 208 yds).
Wilhoite has been on a tear the last two games, recording 16 receptions for 385 yards and four touchdowns.
“He’s very versatile and he can do it all,” Batten said. “He can take a hitch or a tunnel screen and take that 90 yards. He can run a vertical in zone or man coverage and jump over you. He’s a very talented receiver.”
Sam McGaw is the sports editor for Brentwood Home Page, Franklin Home Page, Nolensville Home Page and Spring Hill Home Page. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcGaw_.