Originally created 12/03/99

Briarwood Bucs prepared to face Trinity



As much time as Briarwood coach Dan Moore has spent decorating Briarwood's football field for tonight's state championship game, he probably could get a job making extra money painting football fields.

The first-year coach has spent countless hours after practice, painting the field with the usual hashmarks and numbers. But the job that has taken most of his time has been painting checkerboards in the end zones, a trademark at the University of Tennessee's Neyland Stadium.

"We asked them (what kind of designs) they wanted on the field if we hosted the state championship and that's what they wanted," Moore said. "It's been a long week already, and it's been bitterly cold out there under the lights painting this field after practice."

The things you go through to be the host of a state championship game.

Briarwood (9-2) plays host to Trinity in the GISA Class AA state championship game at 8 tonight, the first time the Buccaneers have played in the championship game since a tough 28-22 loss to Terrell Academy in 1997.

The squad's seven seniors -- Bo Fleming, Keith Johnson, W.E. Burdette, Aaron Phillips, Will Bentley, Marcus Harden and Travis Reese -- all were freshmen on that team, and tonight's game is the last chance they have at a state championship.

"They're very excited," Moore said. "I call them just a blue-collar team. Our three leading rushers, Bo (Fleming), Aaron (Phillips) and Bryce Hawes have between 850 and 950 yards rushing each. So we haven't been relying on that one particular person to lead our offense. I think our offensive line has done a very good job this season.

"I know this sounds like an old cliche, but we're playing good team football."

For a team that at one time wasn't even mentioned as the best in its region, the Bucs have continued to improve, and Moore said this group deserves to be playing in the title game.

"Edmund Burke was very tough before they had some late injuries," Moore said. "After we had lost to Edmund Burke during the season and then Gatewood beat Edmund Burke later in the year, I knew we had a chance."

Trinity (8-3) has had a season similar to Briarwood's. The Crusaders used a young team to get to the championship game.

"They run the triple-option out of the wishbone better than anybody I've seen this year," Moore said. "With their quarterback and their offensive line, they're scary."

Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216.