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Notebook: Statesboro keeps on chugging along

Notebook: Statesboro keeps on chugging along

Notebook: Statesboro keeps on chugging along

    Many teams in the Statesboro Blue Devils’ position might be getting a bit stir-crazy at this point.
    The Devils have rolled to a 5-0 start — including an impressive win over a top-10 Burke County squad — and have risen to No. 5 in the latest Class AAAA state poll. Unfortunately for Statesboro, the impressive resume that has been build so far doesn’t have it any nearer a playoff berth at the midway point of the regular season.
    The Devils play just three sub-region games which will determine where they finish in the region standings and whether or not they will be playing for a spot in the state playoffs in the final week of the regular season. A single loss to South Effingham, Liberty County or Wayne County will likely end any hopes for the Devils of winning the region or hosting a state playoff game.
    As usual, Statesboro seems indifferent about all of the what-ifs that will come around in the approaching weeks.
    “We know the situation we’re in with a small sub-region,” SHS coach Steve Pennington said. “We can’t control it other than to make sure that we’re prepared for each of those games when we have to play them. Until then, our goal is to make sure we’re improving with each practice and game so that we can be where we need to be when we play those games.”
    That mindset was evident in last Friday’s 44-6 rout of Butler — just the latest in a handful of impressive showings for the Devils so far.

Nowhere to hide
    In past years, there was a clear — albeit difficult — blueprint for beating Statesboro.
    The Devils were limited in their passing game at times, making it difficult to mount a comeback late in games. When teams were able to possess the ball against Statesboro, it put pressure on the Devil offense to put things in high gear when it was better designed to grind away slowly.
    So far this season, that plan is out the window and no new angles seem to be any more viable.
    Statesboro still has a powerful offensive line that can win the wars at the line of scrimmage to gain tough yards, but the backfield is now much more explosive — and deep — making even one missed tackle a potential nightmare for opposing defenses. Add in the newly found vertical passing game of quarterback Colin Chance and big-play receiver Joe Corless, and the Devils are now poised to strike from anywhere on the field.

You can’t run away
    Opponents looking to get into a track meet and simply outscore Statesboro aren’t having much luck either.
    Last season, an undersized defensive  line was pushed around at times. A lack of pressure allowed teams to send extra blockers in search of linebackers, allowing ball carriers to break free into the second level of the defense.
    Statesboro’s new defensive front is still learning the ropes, but has raw talent and is holding its own.
    “We’ve called (the defensive line) the ‘Green Machine’,” Pennington said. “They’re still young and have a lot to learn, but we’ve certainly seen some good signs from them.”
That has allowed linebackers Tim Key and Anthony Gore — both moved from outside to inside positions this season — to wreak havoc.
    Key has a pair of interceptions already while Gore has racked up three sacks and is constantly breaking into the offensive backfield.
The wait continues
    Statesboro still has one more week to go before getting into its sub-region schedule. This Friday, the Devils take on a Swainsboro squad whose current 10-game losing streak was started by Statesboro last October.
    From there, the action heats up. Statesboro travels to Liberty County — one of three sub-region teams receiving top-10 votes — next week before its bye week, then closes out with South Effingham and Wayne County before the Region 3-AAAA play-in games on Nov. 8.

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

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