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Devils' defense shines in Blue-White game
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Statesboro running back Chris Young, top, high steps through the arms of a defender during Friday's Blue-White spring football game. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Statesboro Blue Devils football was back for a one-night spring showcase Friday at Womack Field in the annual Blue-White game, culminating two weeks of spring practice.

With all of the offensive players in white and the defensive players in blue, a three-yard scamper by sophomore Larry Huff in the second quarter was the white team’s only touchdown in the 7-0 final. Senior Caleb Brown kicked the extra point. Shortened quarters and a running clock limited possessions for the offense, which rotated between first, second, and third team personnel.

The scene was largely a familiar one – a stingy defense and a power running game. There was a new twist, however, as the offense occasionally diverted from its traditional wishbone style into both option and shotgun formations.

“We know our base is the wishbone, but we went into the spring to give ourselves a chance to look at other schemes, such as the option and the shotgun,” Head Coach Steve Pennington said postgame. “We’re trying to give ourselves more opportunities to spread out the defenses so they won’t just pack nine people in the box.”

In the game’s only scoring drive, junior quarterback Reid Pennington, out of the shotgun, connected with junior wide receiver Tavis Wilson for a 25-yard reception, taking the ball inside the blue team’s 25-yard line. From there, the power rushing attack led by Pennington, Aaron Lester, Dequan Daniels and Chris Young set up Huff for the score.

Despite the touchdown drive, the defense was in control for most of the game. Led by a hard-hitting linebacker core of Branden Williams, William Golden, Jahlil Haggray and Joseph Mainer, the defense forced pair of first half turnovers, including a Haggray interception. Michael Bowling and Devin Budgett also broke up several passes in the secondary.

All in all, Pennington was pleased with how his team has progressed.

“From where we started two weeks ago, we’ve made great improvements. I was really impressed about how we came back from halftime with the intensity. I saw some pride established on both sides of the football. Competition is what it’s all about, and we’ve got alot of players out here to make our team better.”

Statesboro will be looking to improve on their 6-5 record from 2009, where they defeated in the first round of the GHSA playoffs. The first game of 2010 season will likely be scheduled for late August.