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Devils finally home, ready for Rebels

    After a last-second comeback win over Lakeside, Evans last Friday, Statesboro has an opportunity to start off 2-0 in sub-region play tonight as it welcomes Effingham County for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Womack Field.
    Last week’s win was a big one for the Blue Devils (4-1, 1-0 Region 2-AAAA). Not only did it erase the sting of Statesboro’s first loss two weeks ago at the hands of Liberty County, but it also gave the Devils a boost in their hunt for the postseason.
    The division of Region 2-AAAA into sub-regions means less games on the schedule are counted toward the final region standings. With only three teams from each sided advancing to the play-in round in the regular season’s final week — plus a guaranteed state playoff spot for each sub-region champion — every win inside the sub-region is a vital one.
    This week, the Devils look to stay hot against their old rivals from Effingham (3-2, 1-0).
    Last season, the Rebels handed Statesboro its first region loss and sent SHS into a midseason slump that hurt its seeding in the state playoffs.
    “Every time we play Effingham, we know it’s going to be a fight,” said Pennington. “They have a good team this season and are hungry to get to the postseason, so we know it will be another tough one.”
    The Rebels will feature a new look this season. Effingham now has Rick Tomberlin at the helm. Tomberlin helped to build Washington County into its current status as a powerhouse in AAA and spent the last three years as the head man at Valdosta.
    Tomberlin brings his power running offense to Effingham in place of last season’s triple-option look, and has shown signs of getting things turned in the right direction for the Rebels.
    “We caught a bit of a break in that we’ve already seen Washington County this season,” said Pennington. “Effingham should be very similar in how they want to attack us. Our defense played very well in that game and has made big plays all season for us, so we’ll need another great effort out of them.”
    Statesboro will again be without the services of starting quarterback Reid Pennington. The junior signal caller missed last week’s game and the exact timetable for his return remains uncertain.
    Fellow junior Michael Summers — fresh off the shelf from an ankle injury — moved from his spot at tailback to lead the Devil offense last week and will again be under center this week, although freshman Colin Chance could see some action in passing situations.
    “We won’t change much of what we do offensively,” said coach Pennington. “We feel that Michael can help us run the ball well from under center or out of the shotgun. What we really need is for a good effort out of our offensive line.”
Tonight will also be “Pink Out” night, which serves to help launch Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
The event is part of Statesboro student Shontea Frink’s senior project working with the cheerleaders and teacher Melanie Braddy’s health care science classes.
Information regarding cancer awareness will be distributed to people coming to the game and pink t-shirts will be sold with all proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.

    Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.