Statesboro High head coach Jeff Kaiser said earlier this week he’d learn a lot more about his team when they finally got a chance to play against someone besides their own teammates. Friday night at Womack field he got that chance, as Statesboro squared off against Swainsboro
in a scrimmage with the Swainsboro varsity outscoring Statesboro 10-7.
The Blue Devils had plenty of bright spots, especially on defense where they created five turnovers, but the Blue Devil offense sputtered for most of the game, and turned the ball over three times themselves, something Kaiser knows has to improve.
“I felt like we really did some good things on defense,” Kaiser said. “We really put our defense in a bind with a few costly turnovers. We also had a major bust coverage wise on their one touchdown, other than that we did pretty good.”
“Give credit to Swainsboro, they are a good team,” Kaiser said. “We need to be able to handle adversity better, and we will get to that on Monday.”
The Blue Devil and Tiger varsity teams played the first three quarters, with the junior varsity playing the fourth quarter.
The Blue Devils initial drive ended in a Jaylen Roberson fumble in Tiger territory. The Tigers took over and were able to convert the turnover into points as kicker Cole Bell connected on a 33-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Statesboro’s offense was then able to move downfield, highlighted by a 33-yard pass from Drake Horton to Aundrell Grace. The drive stalled, and Cody Parker’s 45 yard field goal just missed wide left leaving the score 3-0.
The Tigers were able to put up more points early in the second quarter, Quarterback Kade Youmans hit his big receiver Cedric Seabrough on a short pass from the 12 yard line. Seabrough was able to fight off a few defenders, and dove across the goal line as Swainsboro opened up a 10-0 lead.
Statesboro’s offense continued their struggles as Horton was picked off by J’von Brown at midfield, and he returned it to the Statesboro 42.
The Blue Devil defense stiffened from there and would not allow another point. Hunter Saussy started things off with an interception at midfield, which he returned to the Swainsboro 43-yard line.
“I felt like our defense played hard,” Kaiser said. “They stayed focused and tuned in. We were miss matched on the edges with their big tall receiver against our little short guys, but we played hard throughout the game.”
The Statesboro offense shot themselves in the foot moments later as Roberson took a screen pass and went 42-yards into the end zone, but a holding call brought the ball back and the Blue Devils were unable to convert on a fourth and long situation.
The Blue Devil defense continued their solid play creating a pair of turnovers before the half. Ames Rackleff came through with a fumble recovery, and then Gabe Idowu was able to pick off a pass just before halftime, leaving the score 10-0 at the half.
The Blue Devil defense started the second half off with a bang. Brendan Jackson leveled Ja’von Brown, who coughed up the ball, and once again Rackleff recovered the fumble.
Two plays later Grace raced 31-yards down the sidelines for the touchdown. Parker converted the extra point to cut the lead to 10-7.
“I was proud of our offense there in the third quarter,” Kaiser said. “We had a touchdown called back for a hold earlier, and a bunch of penalties. Our offensive line and on the perimeters we didn’t block well, and that’s on me. We will get better there.”
That would be the final points of the third quarter, as Rackleff had another fumble recovery and the Statesboro and Swainsboro junior varsity teams played the fourth and final quarter.
“All and all I was pleased with the effort,” Kaiser said. “We do need to grow up though. We have some seniors that when bad stuff happens, instead of buckling down, we start pouting. That is the sign of an immature team, and we need to change that.”
The next time Statesboro takes the field it will be for their season opener at home against Greenbrier August 30th. The game is scheduled for a 7:30 kickoff at Womack field.