Statesboro will be going for an undefeated regular season tonight when it takes on Greenbrier at 7:30 p.m. in Evans.
The No. 4 Blue Devils (8-0, 4-0 Region 2-AAAA) were off last week, but now embark on their second trip to the Augusta area in three weeks as they square off against the Wolfpack (4-4, 2-2).
Up until last week, it seemed as if this game might decide the sub-region championship. Greenbrier had just one region loss when it traveled to South Effingham last Friday, but the Wolfpack dropped a tough 38-35 decision and Statesboro was able to celebrate clinching the top spot in the sub-region from the comforts of home.
“Winning the sub-region was definitely a part of our goal,” said SHS coach Steve Pennington. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t still have a lot to play for. We expect our players to give great effort each week and that won’t change against Greenbrier.”
Another win for the Devils will keep their confidence high, but in reality, nothing that happens tonight will affect how the rest of Statesboro’s season plays out.
With the sub-region title already in hand, the Blue Devils have clinched a spot in the region championship game for the second straight year. That also means that the Devils have already earned a spot in the state tournament and will play their first round game of the state tournament at home.
Still, the preparations for a postseason run have been put on the back burner until next week. Right now, it’s all about taking on the Wolfpack.
“We know that they present a great challenge for us,” said Pennington. “If you look at their schedule, they may have lost some games, but they’ve been a tough team to stop.”
From an offensive standpoint, Greenbrier is having one of its better seasons in recent memory. The Wolfpack has been held to less than 21 points just twice this season and are averaging over 25 points per game in their wins.
Opposing teams may be having a hard time figuring out how to defend Greenbrier, but the Devils will look to continue their philosophy of the best defense being one that spends most of its time on the sidelines.
The last month of play has seen Statesboro’s offense hit its stride. While the breakaway speed of its stable of running backs can produce big plays, their solid line play and wishbone scheme is also starting to produce more sustained drives that wear down the clock, as well as opponents’ defenses.
“It’s no secret that our defense was spending too much time on the field early this season,” said Pennington. “We’ve improved defensively and our offense is doing a much better job of keeping drives going and preventing the other team from having the ball. That’s the sort of thing that we need to continue to do against Greenbrier.”
Next week, Statesboro will host the region championship game, hoping to earn a No. 1 seed in the state playoffs. The Devils will face the winner of tonight’s game between Ware County and Wayne County.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.