For the first time in the history of the Erk Russell Classic three of the four teams playing will be from Bulloch County. The Portal Panthers will open things up against Twiggs County at 6:00 followed by Statesboro High and Southeast Bulloch meeting for only the third time in the two school’s history.
With so much local flavor the stands should be pretty full with fans and family members who have been at Paulson Stadium for years watching Georgia Southern play, and some who go back to the days of the legendary coach Russell himself.
“We have family and supporters who have played at Georgia Southern and are long-time boosters and fans of the Eagles,” said Portal coach Jason McEachin. “People around Portal know what coach Russell did to get things started and are so grateful to be a part of something that has his name in it. When we learned we were going to be a part of this I started hanging some things about coach Russell up around the weight room and locker room and we feel it’s been important to let the younger generation know what coach Russell means to the whole Bulloch County community.”
For Southeast Bulloch coach Jared Zito getting a chance for his team to be playing in such an historic site that many of them have only sat in the stands before is something that he feels has the Brooklet community fired up about Saturday.
“It is such an honor to be chosen to play in our first Erk Russell Classic,” said Zito. “What an incredible opportunity for our whole county to be involved and I can say the Brooklet community is sure excited about heading over to Paulson Stadium for a 9:00 kickoff against Statesboro. It should be an electric environment.”
Statesboro coach Jeff Kaiser recalls going to Georgia Southern games growing up and even having a relationship with coach Russell.
“Growing up in Statesboro and being a frequent visitor to Snooky’s restaurant I was so glad to be able to get to know coach Russell through the years,” said Kaiser. “I’ve told my players the clean-up crew after Georgia Southern games when I was in high school was the Statesboro baseball team, which I was a member. Not many high school kids get an opportunity to play in a venue like this. It is such an historical place where a legend like coach Russell coached. We are just excited to be able to play in it again.”
Tickets are $15 at the gate and parking is limited and $5 per vehicle. Portal and Twiggs Co. are scheduled to get things underway at 6:00 followed by Statesboro and Southeast Bulloch at 9:00.