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Bulloch football teams close regular season Friday night
Ware County defenders Isaiah Perry, top left, and Trey Hargrove team up for a second quarter sack on Statesboro High quarterback Bruce Yawn on Friday, Oct. 28.

Devils close regular season at Jenkins

The only high school football team in Bulloch County who knows they are going to the postseason is the Statesboro Blue Devils. Statesboro lost to Ware County 59-7 Friday which dropped them to 3-6 on the season, but they are 2-2 in region play and have a chance to be the No. 3 seed with a win Friday against Jenkins “It’s a gut check for the kids,” said Kaiser. “It is easy to get down after a defeat like we had Friday night. You could see the look in some of their eyes where they may be ready for things to be over with. Fortunately, most of our seniors are strong enough to know that crazy things happen in the postseason, so when we get there wherever we are it’s just a matter of continuing to work on execution and getting better.”

The Blue Devils have been hit hard with injuries this season having lost three of their five starting offensive linemen and then lost a couple more players to injury last week. This week Statesboro has been dealing with a flu outbreak among the team but coach Kaiser understands much of this is beyond their control and they have to move on.

“We are beat up and we are sick as we fight off the flu which is running through our locker room right now,” said Kaiser. “Injuries have taken its toll as well so we are in next man up mentality. Some younger guys who haven’t gotten any varsity snaps this year have stepped up in practice and we have had a couple good practices with who we have the past couple days.”

Jenkins comes into the game with plenty on the line as well. The Warriors have an identical record to the Blue Devils as they are 3-6, and 2-2. A win Friday would give them the No. 3 seed and a loss gives them the No. 4 seed.

Jenkins is only averaging 15 points per game while they are giving up 32 points per contest. They are led on offense by 5-3 sophomore running back Jayaun Albert – who has 550 yards rushing and three touchdowns and Joshua Pridgen with 322 yards and three scores.

“They are very fast and physical,” said Kaiser. “They run two different offenses which prove to be a challenge. They run the Wing-T and the spread so in a way that is like preparing for two different teams.'

Defensively the Warriors have a couple of D-1 linemen in 6-3, 220-pound Lorenzo Cowan who has seven sacks this year and has received offers from Duke, Kentucky, Minnesota and Georgia Southern. The other lineman is 6-4, 280-pound Tavion Gadson who is a three-star recruit with offers from Florida State, Auburn, Georgia and Georgia Southern among others.

“On defense they are simple but they are big and fast,” said Kaiser. Having two D-1 linemen defense is a tough battle especially when we are so depleted in our offensive line. It is going to be another huge challenge for us this week.”

Statesboro and Jenkins are set for a 7:30 start Friday night in Savannah.


SEB goes to battle against Burke

With a 35-7 loss last Friday to Wayne County, it looked as though the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets postseason run had come to an end. Monday night Burke County lost a 17-16 overtime game to Wayne County and opened the door for a scenario in which the Jackets could make the postseason if they were able to beat Burke County this Friday by 11 or more points.

“If we were to beat Burke Friday it would potentially set up a threeway tie,” said SEB coach Jared Zito. “If Benedictine beats New Hampstead, then we would be tied with New Hampstead and Burke County. It would then go to point total differential which would mean we would have to beat Burke by 11 or more. If we beat them by 23 or more, we could conceivably be the No. 3 seed.”

The Wayne County overtime win over Burke was marred by a terrifying incident for the Burke County players and coaching staff as head coach Eric Parker collapsed on the sidelines in the first quarter after an apparent heart attack and had to be air lifted to Savannah. Coach Parker was eventually able to pull through but will not be with the team for a while.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to Burke County and coach Parker,” said Zito. “We are thinking and praying for coach and his family as well as their school and community. That is a tough deal and real-life stuff much bigger than football. That is tough on high school kids to see that and then try and play games. They have a great coaching staff over there and a lot of tradition and hopefully those coaches are able to pull things together.”

Not only do the Bears have to deal with a process what happened to their coach, they must also get ready to play their third game in seven days as they head to Brooklet to close out the regular season.

Burke County is led offensively by quarterback Marshall Flowers who has thrown for 1,306 yards and nine touchdowns. Running back Charlie Dorsey leads the team in rushing with 711 yards and six touchdowns.

“They have a lot of good players and are well coached,” said Zito. “They are extremely fast on defense. On offense their quarterback is a good player and makes good decisions. They have some skill players who can really hurt you on the perimeter. They have a big offensive line and they just do a really good job schematically on offense with a ton of formations.”

Southeast Bulloch and Burke County are scheduled for a 7:30 start Friday at Fred Shaver Field.


Portal rounds out regular season on road

The chance for a state playoff appearance ended last week for the Portal Panthers as they dropped a 33-6 decision to McIntosh County Academy. The Panthers started the season strong with a 3-0 mark but have not won a football game on the field since their 28-23 win over Robert Toombs Sept. 1. The Panther's next three losses were games they were tied or leading in the second half. A 28-24 loss on the final drive to Bryan County was followed by a 23-13 setback to Wilkinson County, and then a 24-15 loss to Montgomery County. “We really feel like we won that Bryan County game,” said coach Jason McEachin. “That was the turning point as it was a controversial ending and we thought we had won. It was deflating and tough for the kids as we were also without a couple guys who were suspended after the Robert Toombs game. We had key turnovers that hurt us in the next two losses in which we were right in it.”

Over the last two games things seem to have slipped back, albeit against two good teams with a 42-14 loss to ECI and a 33-6 defeat to MCA.

“The ECI Game got away from us because of turnovers,” said McEachin. “We turned the ball over in their territory on three straight possessions and things got out of hand. We lost seven players to injury in that game and we were just outmanned last week against MCA. I never thought we quit fighting but turnovers and injuries are tough to overcome especially when you are already short in numbers.”

This week the Panthers close out the season with a trip to Millen and a matchup with Jenkins County. The Eagles are 6-3 and coming off an impressive 31-24 win in the last minutes of the game over ECI. Prior to that the Eagles trounced Montgomery County 53-7 and went to overtime against MCA.

The Eagles are averaging nearly 30 points per game and are limiting their opposition to just over 12 points per contest.

“They have a bunch of really good football players and their coaching staff is doing a great job,” said McEachin. “They run the flex bone triple option under center. They have a really good fullback in Rob-Travius Coney who is big guy and runs hard. They have a pair of really good quarterbacks who rotate in and are tough on offense. It’s going to be a challenge to slow them down.”

McEachin says even though the Panthers didn’t reach their goal for making to the state playoffs he feels the effort has been there this week at practice and he believes it will be there Friday night as well.

“Morale has been good,” said McEachin. “The majority of the kids we have are kids you can build a program around. They show up and work and compete regardless of the situation. We lost a few more guys to injury the past few days but the ones that will be out there Friday night will be fighting for a victory.”

Portal and Jenkins County are set for a 7:30 kickoff Friday in Millen.


Gators play host to Pinewood Christian

The season started off pretty strong for the Bulloch Academy Gators but October was definitely a scary month. The Gators have not won a game since Sept. 23 and were 0-4 for the month of October including losing a 30-26 contest last week to St. Andrews in Savannah. Yet another game in which they were leading in the fourth quarter but couldn’t finish things off.

“We just can’t seem to get out of our own way,” said Gator coach Aaron Phillips. “Penalties and turnovers seem to creep up just when things are going well. Our defense makes a couple plays and then in the most critical time they give up a big play. We continue to put ourselves in a place to win and then just can’t seem to make the plays when we have to.” Despite being winless since the end of September the Gators are still not mathematically out of the state playoff hunt, and in fact are currently right on the bubble. A win Friday against Pinewood would assure them of getting in, but even a loss could see the Gators make the playoffs.

“There is not a lot of parody in Class 4-A,” said Phillips. “I feel like we may have done enough to get in regardless of what happens Friday but obviously we want to win and if we do that, we are pretty sure we get in.”

Pinewood comes in 5-3 on the season and 1-1 in region play. The Patriots offense is led by sophomore quarterback Banks Booth who has thrown for 1,631 yards and 16 touchdowns with just five interceptions. Booth has also rushed for six scores. The Patriot’s leading receiver is Walker Todd who has over 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns.

“This will be my first taste of the Pinewood vs. Bulloch Academy rivalry,” said Phillips. “Their offense starts with Booth at quarterback and he has some pretty good targets he likes to throw to. I feel like what they do could give us trouble, but I also feel like what we do will be tough on them. We are banged up pretty bad at this stage but I think we can still put things together and come out with a win. If we can keep it close again in the fourth quarter, I like our chances.”

Even though the Patriots only have only two more victories than the Gators, Phillips is hoping to build the same kind of culture at Bulloch Academy that he sees at Pinewood.

“They have the same guy over there who has been the captain of the ship for a long time,” said Phillips. “When they have down years, they continue to do their same things and stay the course. They are better for it in the long run and I hope we can get to that place. I feel like we will be better next year than we are now and I feel we are better now than we were at the start of the season.”

Bulloch Academy and Pinewood are scheduled for a 7:30 start Friday at Gator Alley.