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Laying it all on the line

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Posted: November 9, 2006 11:46 p.m.
Updated: November 17, 2006 5:00 a.m.
    Tonight at Fred Shaver Field in Brooklet, two football teams with two different goals will meet in their regular season finale. For the homestanding Yellow Jackets of Southeast Bulloch, tonight is senior night, and one last chance at a win. For the Gamecocks of Screven County, a win could mean a trip to the postseason and revenge for last year's loss in Sylvania to rival SEB.
    "We're going to need every ounce and every edge we can get (tonight)," said SEB head coach Mike Ward. "It was said by some of the seniors before practice started Monday that this is our playoff game."
    Southeast (2-7, 1-5) knows their season ends after the final whistle tonight. They also know beating Screven County ends any and all playoff hopes for the Gamecocks.
    "That's the kind of mentality that we've gotta have all week," said Ward. "We're 2-7 going in against a team that’s tinkering on the verge of going into the playoffs, but this game will make or break our season as well."
    Up the road in Sylvania, the Gamecocks (5-4, 3-3) are more worried about SEB than their complicated playoff possibilities.
    "They've got a good football team," said Screven coach Pat Collins. "Their offensive line is probably as good as we've seen all year. I think they compare a lot to Statesboro's line in the way they come off, and their physical...they knock people around."
    A Gamecock win keeps Screven County playoff hopes alive, but they'll need help. If Jefferson County and Laney win or Westside-Augusta and Laney lose, SCHS' season stays alive.
    "I know Southeast Bulloch. Playing them at home has always been tough," said Collins. "It's going to be a tremendous task for us to go in their place and come away OK."
    19 seniors will take the field tonight for SEB (including Ward's son Josh). The first-year SEB coach talked about the emotions of a senior night.
    "It's meant a lot to me to watch these kids grow and mature," said Ward. "It's going to be tough, but it's part of the process. You get 'em as pups and you groom 'em and you coach them and help elevate them to manhood. After that last ballgame you send them on out into the world to do their own thing."
    Both teams will be at near full strength tonight. Collins said his Gamecocks are battling more flus and colds than injuries while the Yellow Jackets will welcome sophomore Tharon Davis back onto the field.

Current and
former coaches reunite

    Former SEB head coach Ron Flott, now an assistant at Screven County, will return to Brooklet to face his old team, now headed up by Ward. Flott spent nine seasons (1997-2005) coaching the Yellow Jackets, losing just three of those seasons. Current Gamecock coach Collins coached at SEB from 1995-1996.

    Chad Bishop can be reached at (912)-489-9404.
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