The good news for the Statesboro Blue Devil football team is that they have been competitive in all but one of their seven games this season. The bad news is that they only have two total wins to show for it and are 0-2 in Region 2-AAAAA competition.
The Blue Devils are coming off a bye week and have had two weeks to prepare for their biggest game of the season, as a win would lock up their first state playoff appearance since 2013.
“We had a good week of practice last week and gave the kids off Friday,” said Statesboro head coach Jeff Kaiser, “I feel like they have their legs back under them and we are ready for a good South Effingham team Friday night.”
The Friday off also gave Kaiser and members of his staff an opportunity to see the Mustangs firsthand in their 35-3 loss to Ware County.
“They are a very good 0-9 football team,” said Kaiser, “They are very solid up front defensively, probably as strong as we have seen this year. The turnover bug made that score with Ware seem a little worse than it actually was.”
The Mustangs' 0-3 region record includes two wins in which they held a fourth quarter lead — against Wayne County and New Hampstead, with the Phoenix scoring on the last play of the game for a 13-7 victory.
“Their defense has kept them in these ballgames,” said Kaiser, “They are very rarely out of position defensively. They are a very well coached very good football team, they are nothing we can overlook.”
Kaiser feels the team has made strides this year despite their 2-5 record and has had to remind his players of this despite some outside noise.
“There are a lot of folks in our community that are questioning this and saying it’s the same old, same old,” said Kaiser, “I had to tell our kids I hope you realize we are three missed tackles away from being 5-2 and everybody patting you on the back.”
As for the two remaining games Kaiser feels the team is ready and focused on winning them both and heading to the playoffs.
“We’re not looking for an attaboy there’s no excuses in some of the losses we’ve had, there’s a couple where we got beat by some really good football teams,” said Kaiser, “We just have to continue to work, stay focused and eliminate the clutter that has nothing to do with us making the playoffs.”
The bye week also gave players who were injured a chance to have an extra week of healing including running back Stacy Fleming, and while Kaiser would not be specific he said there are improvements in players status.
“Those guys who have been banged up are still day-to-day,” said Kaiser, “They are gradually working back in, whether they are able to contribute Friday is still up in the air.”
Despite the 0-9 record, South Effingham could claim the No. 4 seed out of the region with a win over the Blue Devils.
Statesboro and South Effingham are scheduled for a 7:30 kickoff Friday at Womack Field.