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Devils no stranger to having region title on the line

Devils no stranger to having region title on the line

Devils no stranger to having region title on the line


    The Region 2-AAAA title is on the line, so it must be time for another game between Statesboro and Brunswick.
    After winning their respective sub-regions over the first nine games of the season, a region champion will be crowned Friday night as the Blue Devils (7-2, 4-1) head down I-95 to take on the Pirates (7-2, 5-0).
    The matchup marks the third consecutive year that the two teams have ended regular season play against each other, and — also for the third straight season — the winner will walk away with the region crown.
    Statesboro will be hoping to reverse another trend in these meetings. Brunswick has topped the Devils to take the region in both of the last two seasons, but winning now is more important to the Devils than settling old scores.
    “They’ve won two of the last three, so we owe them another,” said SHS coach Steve Pennington. “We aren’t too concerned with what has happened in previous years though. It doesn’t matter what team is out there. We’re playing to win the region, so winning itself is what we’re focused on, not getting revenge for any losses.”
    Not many teams have been able to pull that trick on Brunswick. Valdosta — which plays in the state’s highest classification — is one of only two teams to take down the Pirates this season.
    Of course, the other team would be Statesboro.
    Playing against each other in the Devils’ season opener, Statesboro proved a lot to the region — and itself — when it marched into Brunswick and came out with a 21-12 win in a cross-region matchup.
    Two months after their first meeting, the two schools will lock horns again with a little more on the line.
    Both teams have grown since that game, and the Devils are well aware that their earlier success does nothing to guarantee another win.
    “The bottom line is that Brunswick is a very good team that is very tough to beat in their own back yard,” said Pennington. “They’re doing things a little differently now and having a lot of success with it. We’re going to be going up against a very confident team.”
    With one win over Brunswick already, the Devils do have good reason to believe that they can do it again.
    For Pennington, the trick has been guiding his team on the line between having confidence and becoming complacent.
    “Our guys are smart,” said Pennington. “They know what needs to be done. We preach all year that we want to get better every week. We won the first one against Brunswick, but that was a long time ago and both teams have been getting better.”
    With a win, Statesboro will clinch its first outright region title since its 2005 state championship season. The region titles may not be rolling in over the past few seasons, but this is still a winning program with a winning tradition — one that it can add another notch to with another victory Friday.
    “We have plenty of guys who have been in this type of situation before,” said Pennington. “All of our juniors and seniors have been to the quarterfinals in the state playoffs before. They might be in the limelight a little more now than they were then, but they know what it’s going to take to get the job done.”

    Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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