By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Blue Devils face Ware Co. for region title
No. 1 seed on the line
W SHS FOOTBALL 090911 852
Statesboro High head coach Steve Pennington pats defensive end Lex Womack on the helmet after a big play against Tattnall County in this Sept. 9, 2011, file photo.

SHS region championship tickets
    Advance tickets for the Blue Devils region championship game at Womack Field on Friday night can be purchased at Statesboro High on Friday from 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. for $7.
    No tickets will be sold after 1:30 except at the stadium gates when they open at 6 p.m.  All tickets at the gate will cost $8. Everyone entering the game must have a ticket. Only GHSA passes will be honored.
    For game parking, the SHS student lot will be utilized along with the large vacant lot behind the school off of Fleming Drive, where the old school was located. All other normal spots will be available

The sub-region has been clinched for over two weeks, and now it’s time for Statesboro to set its sights on goals that are a bit loftier.
    Friday, the Blue Devils – ranked No. 4 in the state polls – host No. 5 Ware County in the Region 2-AAAA championship game.
    A win for Statesboro will run its record to a still-perfect 10-0, clinch its second consecutive region title, and – most importantly – a No. 1 seed in the upcoming state playoffs.
    Despite the ramifications of this week’s game, the Devils are downplaying their matchup with the Gators (8-1).
    “The fact is, this game has always been on the schedule,” said SHS coach Steve Pennington of the region schedule, which guarantees a game in the final week of the regular season for all teams, with only three games carrying playoff implications.
    “We were going to have a game this week, no matter what. This is just the next game up on our schedule.”
    The Devils’ relaxed attitude is nothing new, and certainly seems to be a recipe for success. Perhaps it’s just the grinding nature of Statesboro’s wishbone offense or the fundamental, sometimes vanilla look of its defense, but there is never a sense of panic or hurriedness to the Devils.
    A lot of respect and preparation is given to each opponent, but the Devils’ cold, calculated approach to each matchup keeps them on an even keel, even as the games get more important.
    “We’re in the people business,” said Pennington. “We never want our kids to get too high or too low about any game. Nothing about that should change just because of who is on the schedule.
    “That being said, it’s just human nature that you’ll start to get a little more excited. As the importance of games grows, we hope to raise our desire, energy and effort.”
    The biggest relaxer that the Devils have going into this week is the assurance of knowing that they will live to fight another day, regardless of Friday’s result. Two of Friday’s region games are win-or-go-home contests, but —as sub-region champions — both Statesboro and Ware are assured of a spot in the state playoff field.
    That guarantee is good news for Statesboro, as its main goal for the season has little to do with its region or regular season games.
    After a last-second field goal left the Devils short of the state championship game by just a few inches last season, the challenge for this year has been clear. Pennington and his squad always state that winning every game as it comes is the main goal, but they make no bones about what is in the back of their minds, and aren’t afraid to make their ambitions known with the playoffs just a week away.
    “We have very high expectations of ourselves,” said Pennington. “We expect to be able to compete for and win a state championship. The good news is that we have put ourselves in a spot to achieve those expectations, regardless of what happens this week.”
    The winner of Friday’s game will face the No. 4 seed out of Region 1-AAAA, which will be claimed by the loser of this week’s game between Bainbridge and Thomas County Central.

Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.