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Devils in the swing of things
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Statesboro High golfer Clay Cribbs celebrates after sinking a put for par at the 18th hole at Forest Heights Country Clug during a match against Southeast Bulloch and Savannah Christian Wednesday.

    The weather is finally starting to warm up, but the Statesboro golf team has been red hot since the beginning of the season.
    The Blue Devils have been tearing up the competition so far, winning all three of their head-to-head matches and taking the honors in one of the two tournaments that they have competed in so far this year.
    “I’ve got to admit. I sort of walked into a lot of the talent here,” SHS second year coach Glenn Bailey said. “We have a lot of talented guys on this squad and we’ve been making a lot of good strides throughout the season.”
    Led by Cameron Shiels — who has broken par in several events so far — and Clay Cribbs, the Devils have taken care of opponents such as Burke County, Southeast Bulloch and Savannah Christian in head-to-head competition.
    Even more impressive was Statesboro’s win in the Johnny Paulk Invitational held at Jekyll Island on March 2. In a popular and competitive tournament that was split into two brackets due to over 30 teams participating, the Devils bested all comers to take home the title.
    While plenty of great individual efforts have highlighted the Devils’ season thus far, the key to Statesboro’s success has been its consistency as golf is a team sport at the high school level.
    Each match features six golfers, with the lowest four scores counting toward the team total. Many high school teams have a couple of experienced players, but are forced to make the best of it with some newcomers to the sport. For the Devils, years of training and dozens of previous competitive rounds are proving to be the difference.
        “We’re in a great spot to have a lot of guys who have been playing for a long time,” Bailey said. “Most of our top guys have been swinging golf clubs since they were four or five years old. It makes a big difference in matches when you know that you’re going to have three or four guys that you can depend on to turn in pretty good scores.”
    The Devils have plenty of ‘guys’ that can rack up the birdies, but they also have a girl amongst their ranks.
    Sarah Jane Bowers competed on the SHS girls’ team for the last two seasons. With Bowers’ scores consistently low enough to compete in the boys tournaments, the decision was made to make her a fixture with the boys squad.
    “She is a great addition,” Bailey said. “She can compete with everyone we’ve seen so far. In fact, only one girl has posted a better score in our matches this year, and that was with Sarah Jane playing from tees that are about 50 yards farther back than the ladies’ tees.”
    The Devils set out to prove themselves in another big-name tournament this weekend as they compete in the Demon Invitational hosted by Warner Robins.

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