It may be a brand new season, but this year’s edition of Statesboro football looks scarily similar to the team that almost went all the way in 2010.
The Blue Devils went under the lights for the first time this season Friday night at Womack Field and looked to be in top form, breezing to a 47-7 win over Groves and getting a lot of solid work in as they continued preparations for the regular season.
“I was very pleased with what I saw tonight,” said SHS coach Steve Pennington. “There were good physical and mental efforts given on both sides of the ball.”
As easy as things seemed to come to the Devils, Pennington made sure that the moment didn’t lead to complacency. While addressing his team after the scrimmage, he directed their attention to a scoreboard that had already been wiped clean.
“Look at that scoreboard right now,” said Pennington. “There’s nothing up there. We aren’t in the regular season yet. You played well, but there is a lot to stay humble about and a lot we need to improve on.”
Mistakes were made and will be addressed come Monday, but Statesboro’s bread and butter was hitting on all cylinders.
Six different running backs totaled 35 or more yards rushing Friday night. Quan Daniels racked up 83 yards and a touchdown on just three carries while fellow first-stringer Michael Summers carried the ball five times for 62 yards. Sherrodric Rawls’ scoring run covered 42 of his 54 yards and Willie Johnson added a 4-yard touchdown run in with his 49 rushing yards.
“In this system, you need a covey of running backs that can step up,” said Pennington. “It also kind of goes along with my message of staying humble. We have some good, young running backs, but they have to wait their turn and even the guys on the field have to block for each other just as much as they get to run the football.”
Starting quarterback Reid Pennington didn’t get to showcase his arm much, but was on target when he did. Pennington had just one completion – a 3-yard screen to the sideline – but only attempted one other pass, which glanced off the hands of Diquan Brunson, missing a chance for a 30-yard touchdown strike.
Later in the scrimmage, the Devils finally scored through the air as Colin Chance found Summers over the middle for a 25-yard touchdown pass.
Defensively, Statesboro’s first team was strong against a very athletic Groves squad.
The Devils recovered a fumble on just the second play of the night and stopped nearly every rushing attempt that came up the middle.
In the final two periods of the scrimmage – where first downs and turnovers were counted – Statesboro yielded just three first downs to the Rebels.
“I thought we were pretty strong up front,” said Pennington. “Groves has a lot of speed and we got beat a few times around the end. That’s something that we look for in a scrimmage and something that we’ll have to fix.”
While no contact was allowed on special teams plays, Statesboro’s kickers had themselves a solid night.
Starting placekicker Alan Rodriquez connected on all three of his extra point attempts and also drilled a 42-yard field goal. George Hill added a 22-yard field goal and hit on his only extra point attempt, and junior varsity kicker Paul Tedders hit on one of his two extra point tries.
The Devils now go back to beating up on each other as nine more days of practice remain before the regular season opener.
On August 26, Statesboro welcomes Brunswick to town. The Devils opened the 2010 season with a win at Brunswick and defeated the Pirates on the road once more to clinch the Region 2-AAAA championship.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.