STRATFORD—The Bunnell High football team is hoping to conjure up the perfect storm to beat archrival Stratford on Thanksgiving morning.
The Bulldogs will be relying on Thunder and Lightning.
That’s the nickname first-year Bunnell coach Ty Jenkins has conjured up for his two-headed backfield of Tyreek Smith and Jovan Eggleston.
The two senior running backs offer speed and power and a balance that Jenkins hopes will keep the Red Devils’ defense honest come game time.
Kick-off at Penders Field is 10 a.m., Thursday morning.
“We always have to sit down them down before a game and say it’s either going to be a Tyreek game or a Jovan game, depending on what we’re trying to do,” Jenkins said. “We have certain plays for each of them.”
Jenkins isn’t tipping his hand at what Thursday’s game is going to be, but he knows he has a one-two punch that has especially come on strong in recent weeks as Bunnell’s offensive line—which boasted four new starters in five slots—has come together.
“They have had to both be patience with that because our line was so young,” Jenkins said. “We’ve seen the last four or five weeks, that group is starting to gell and production has started to move up.”
The 5-foot-11, 193-pound Smith is the speedster (he returned an interception 100 yards earlier this season) while the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Eggleston will just as soon run you over as try to avoid you.
The two know they complement each other like, well, thunder and lightning.
“I feel like he’s more of the power back and I’m more of the outside guy,” said Smith, who has scored 10 touchdowns this season. “They can’t focus on both of us.”
Each has a different skill set that will keep opposing defenses honest.
“He’s too fast. You can’t catch him,” Eggleston (6 TDs) said of Smith.
Replied Smith: “His power and strength. That’s what makes him so good.”
The two also keep each other focused in the backfield.
“When we’re back there, we’re always giving each other the pep talk,” Eggleston said. “Saying, ‘This is your time!’ You know? We depend on each other. If it’s not me, it’s him.”
As vital as the two are on offense, both also play key roles for Bunnell’s defensive unit.
Smith has proven himself to be one of the top defensive backs in the SWC this season.
“It’s almost scary how fast he gets to places,” Jenkins said.
From his defensive end spot, Eggleston can also use his strength and speed to chase opposing quarterbacks out of the pocket while also overpowering offensive lineman to make tackles at the line of scrimmage.
“He’s got a strong motor and he’s always going to go,” Jenkins said.
Smith and Eggleston have been teammates and friends since they first joined the town’s Pop Warner football ranks when they were both seven years old.
Now, they have four quarters left in their career for Bunnell.
“It means everything,” Eggleston said. “We started together and now we’re going to end it together.”
Just like a real storm, Thunder and Lightning will move on after Thursday.
What damage will be left behind at Penders Field is the question.