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Judgement day as Devils travel to Evans

    It’s judgement day for Statesboro.
    The Blue Devils (5-0, 4-0 Region 3-AAAA), ranked No. 4 by the Associated Press in Class AAAA, must go on the road today to face an undefeated Evans team. And, oh yeah, it’s homecoming.
    “We need this kind of game to see if we’re ready to match up to a team with confidence,” said SHS coach Steve Pennington. “It’s a good opportunity for our older players who have been in intense playoff competition to model confidence, model composure — because this is a different environment that we’ve been in throughout this season.”
    Both squads are in first place, one game up on Brunswick and Ware County in the region standings. Both teams have had wins by more than 29 points and both have survived overtimes to stay unbeat.
    The Blue Devils have had to deal with the fall break schedule this week, throwing SHS out of routine. But Pennington said the team has responded well and dealt with the change of schedule.
    Evans (5-0, 4-0 Region 3-AAAA) is coming off a 35-0 win over the Academy of Richmond County. Excitement has been high around campus on homecoming week and a big crowd is expected at the 8,000 seat Blanchard Stadium.
    The Knights run a multiple offense, which Statesboro has dealt with in three wins over Wayne County, Lakeside and Greenbrier. EHS, however, has a bit more speed on the offensive side of the ball than Devils’ last few opponents.
    “That increases them to have the potential to make big plays,” said Pennington. “Tackling must be a premium. They are very effective in running the option. Our perimeter people on defense must be disciplined enough to be able to recognize that we can’t play on our heels all night — ‘pass, pass, pass’. Our linebackers and our secondary are really going to have to be on our ‘p’s and ‘q’s and on top of their game every single play.”
    The x-factor in the contest could be experience. The Blue Devils have been in big game s year-in and year-out, while the Knights haven’t made the playoffs since 2000. Statesboro has outscored Evans 100-14 the last three years and the Knights are 0-9 against the Devils.
    “From our perspective, it’s staying true to form in what we do,” said Pennington. We’ve been there before — Evans hasn’t. We rely on our past experiences when something may go wrong or go in disarray — still trust, and believe in what we’re doing, be patient and not get caught up in the moment.”
    Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

    Chad Bishop can be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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