Everything seems to be coming together for Statesboro.
The Blue Devils are finally coming back from a rash of injuries and — after a 42-21 victory over South Effingham last Friday in what was one of their best performances of the season — are sitting atop the Region 2A-AAAA standings. Another win tonight against Evan will guarantee at least a tie for the sub-region title and a chance to clinch a state playoff birth next week.
“We’re happy with our performances over the last few weeks,” said SHS coach Steve Pennington. “But we can’t stop improving. We want to instill the mindset that playing like we did last week isn’t going to be good enough to win again this week. We need to continue to get better every day.”
The biggest order of business this week has been maintaining focus.
Statesboro has played just two of its seven games at home, but while getting back to the cozy confines of Womack Field is a welcome change of scenery, Pennington wants to make sure that the festivities surrounding homecoming week don’t lead to a mental lapse.
“Homecoming is definitely a good thing and a fun time,” said Pennington. “It also presents a challenge for us. The student body is excited and there should be a big crowd, so that’s good, but there’s also some early release days and some events that vary from our routine. It’s essential that we remain focused on our goals and show up prepared.”
The Knights (5-2, 1-1)were upset in a stunning 10-6 loss against Greenbriar last week, but the Devils aren’t underestimating their opponent.
“We know that Evans is a very good football team,” said Pennington. “One of our biggest concerns is their offense. Evans runs a pistol formation, which our defense hasn’t seen any of. I’ve been pleased with our efforts in preparing this week and hopefully they can continue to make the plays that have benefitted us so far this year.”
The Devils hope to bring the same offensive explosiveness tonight that helped them light up the scoreboard last week in Guyton.
In the South Effingham game, quarterback Reid Pennington returned after sitting out two weeks with an injury. The junior signal caller hit on all four of his passes — including two touchdowns — and racked up 154 yards through the air in his best performance of the season.
Michael Summers — who took over at quarterback while Pennington was out — returned to his spot at tailback and combined with fellow running back Dequan Daniels for 287 rushing yards and four total touchdowns.
“We all have our talents that work well together,” said Summers. “I think that we’re all starting to mesh together really well, both offensively and defensively. If we continue to play smart and improve a little each week, I think we have a shot to be very good.”
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.