The Statesboro Blue Devils had to wait a while, but they were finally able to get the 2020 football season underway Friday in Swainsboro. The Blue Devils had a chance to win in the final minutes of the game, but ended up falling short 12-6.
One of the biggest hurdles the Blue Devils had to overcome was the loss of head coach Jeff Kaiser, who is still recovering from an illness. In his absence many coaches had to perform tasks they haven’t had to do in a while, and according to Coach David NeSemith that is something they didn’t realize would be as tough as it was Friday.
“Coach Hill is our offensive coordinator, but hasn’t called plays since he was head coach at Bradwell five years ago,” said NeSmith. “It takes a while to get back into that routine, and I feel like our last drive was the best drive of the night. I felt out of place trying to do what Jeff does as well. I wasn’t sure exactly where to be and what to do. We met and discussed that on Sunday, and I feel we will be much more prepared and organized this Friday.”
Despite the loss there was plenty to build on. The Statesboro defense did a pretty good job of controlling the line of scrimmage with a very youthful group. The offense had their moments as well particularly on their final drive of the night.
“Defensively I felt we played great at times, and at others we missed some tackles and looked shaky,” said NeSmith. “Offensively we were disappointed in the output. The good thing is I feel the mistakes that were made are things we can correct.”
Playing against a team that already had two games under their belt showed Friday, as the Blue Devils hit with some penalties at crucial times, including at the end of the game. The other thing they were dealing with was playing without the services of two starting offensive lineman, who will both return Friday.
“It was what you would expect playing your first game,” said NeSmith. “We had a lot of mistakes, and we answered a lot of questions we had as a staff going into the game. I think we were able to knock off some of the rust, and I expect we should make a lot of progress from week one to week two. I also think it will help to get a few of those guys up front back this week.”
The Blue Devils will be looking to bounce back against a pretty formidable foe as they welcome 2-1 Houston County to Womack Field. The Bears have been among the top teams in the state over the past 10 years, and feature a stout defensive line. The Bears have held their opponents to just over 10 points per contest and should be quite a test for the Blue Devil offense.
“They are huge up front,” said NeSmith. “Nijah Johnson, Jalen Jordan and Jayleem Santos all really standout. They also have a good linebacking corps, and their secondary is strong.”
On offense the Bears have struggled so far this season, and are averaging just over 10 points per contest. They are led by 5-10, 200 pound senior running back Corey Chaisson, and 6-3, 185 pound freshman quarterback Christian Lawhorn.
“Their quarterback is a freshman, but seems like he has some poise,” Said NeSmith. “Chaisson is a tough runner, so we are going to have to shore some things up on defense to try and slow these guys down particularly by wrapping up on tackling better.”
The Blue Devils and Bears are scheduled for a 7:30 kickoff at Womack Field.