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Blue Devils home at last

Tattnall County (1-1) at
No. 5 Statesboro(1-0)

7:30 p.m., 102.9 FM
Womack Field

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    Three weeks into the regular season, the lights will finally come on at Womack Field as Statesboro hosts Tattnall County tonight.
    The Blue Devils (2-0, No. 5 Class AAAA) started the season strong against Lakeside, Evans and hung on to beat Richmond Academy last week. Now, the Devils are looking to give their home crowd a show against the Battle Creek Warriors (1-1).
    “First of all, it’s always good to be playing at home,” said SHS coach Steve Pennington. “But even more importantly, we’re 2-0 after two games on the road. Any time you can win a game away from home, it’s a big positive. We’ve already got two of those out of the way.”
    A couple of lengthy road trips are in the past, but the challenge of winning is still a clear and present issue for the Devils.
    Despite Tattnall County playing in a lower classification – the Warriors were in Class AA in 2010 and 2011 before moving to Class AAA this season – it has given Statesboro nothing but trouble recently. The Devils survived a scare in Reidsville two seasons ago and Tattnall took the then seventh-ranked Devils deep into the second half before the game was decided last year.
    Based on the teams’ knowledge of each other, not much figures to change tonight.
    “(Tattnall coach Jeff Kaiser) is one heck of a coach,” said Pennington. “The entire staff over there is very good and a lot of them have ties to Statesboro. They know what we like to do and they make things tough on us.”
    Statesboro showed a new wrinkle in its offense last week as Colin Chance burned Richmond Academy for a pair of touchdowns on play-action throws.
    Pennington didn’t rule out more passing tonight, but also acknowledged that the Tattnall coaches know exactly what to expect from Statesboro.
    “We still want to run and nothing will change that,” said Pennington. “Of course, if teams want to put eleven in the box, we might just throw it over your head.”
    The Tattnall players also go a long way in keeping the action flowing on the field.
    Quarterback Brandon Purcell is in his second season under center for the Warriors. Last season, Purcell showed off both his arm and legs in keeping the SHS defense guessing.
    “(Purcell) is not only talented, but he’s poised,” said Pennington. “He plays with a lot of confidence. Hopefully, he won’t get going again like he did last year.”
    Adding to the Devil defense’s task is the variety that the Warriors like to show. Tattnall will line up in the familiar double-tight wishbone set that Statesboro utilizes, but is also apt to line up in shotgun with three or four receivers.
    Statesboro has shown the ability to defend the pass well this season, but was susceptible to power running at times last week.
    Making things even more complicated, the Warriors have a stable of skill position players that will line up as both running backs and wide receivers.
    With that versatility, Tattnall can change its entire offensive strategy without bringing in a new package of personnel.
    “There’s going to be a lot of yelling from the sideline,” Pennington. “We need to be prepared for anything because we might not see what they’re trying to do until they line up.”
    Statesboro is looking for another strong showing as the regular season games start to pile up.
    The Devils would love to be 3-0 and still in the Top-10 next week when they travel to Region 3-AAAA newcomer and defending Class AAA champion Burke County in what could be a region championship preview.

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