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Devils put it to the test, set for Friday scrimmage
102309 SHS FOOTBALL 05
Statesboro safety Reid Pennington (10) takes off upfield after intercepting a pass from South Effingham quarterback Trey Dorsey in the third quarter in this Friday, October 23, 2009 file photo. Pennington will be calling the signals and taking the snaps as quarterback for SHS this season. - photo by Associated Press

    Only two weeks remain until opening night for high school football, and Statesboro is ready to see how it stacks up.
    Tonight, the Blue Devils will host Groves in a scrimmage beginning at 7 p.m. at Womack Field.
    After two weeks of hitting friends and teammates, scrimmages are always a welcome change to the monotony of daily practices. For Statesboro, tonight will be a measuring stick for how far the Devils have come and what issues need to be addressed before the regular season begins. And even for a team with big dreams, it’s the little things that have to be addressed first.
    “Mostly, we just want to be sure everyone is lining up right and knows their assignments,” said Statesboro coach Steve Pennington. “With two weeks of practice behind us, we want to focus on execution and set the pace for the upcoming season. The only way you can execute is to take care of the little things, so that’s what we want to get down first.”
    Statesboro will use tonight’s scrimmage as an opportunity to take a look at many players in a game setting. While the Devils are much more settled on personnel than last year when 17 starting positions had to be filled to replace departed seniors from the class of 2008, the coaching staff is sure to toy with lineups to get an idea of who will be ready to shine when the games count.
    “The challenge is to see how well new players respond to the new environment,” said Pennington. “There is pressure in going from a JV game to being under the lights on a Friday. We want to see if some of our younger guys will respond or get caught up in the moment.”
    The quarterback position has been vacated from last season – DeAnthony Stevens and Tood Cone shared time as seniors — but junior Reid Pennington has stepped up from his role as free safety and backup quarterback in 2009 and will likely be the head signal caller this year.
    Also working behind center is Michael Summers, and a host of freshmen quarterbacks give the Devils plenty of options.
    “We’re looking very deep at quarterback,” said Pennington. “We’ll give some guys some snaps during the scrimmage, but another luxury in having a lot of options there is that we can move some guys to different areas that need more help.”
    Tonight’s scrimmage is a rematch of a regular season game from last year. In that game — also played at Womack Field — Statesboro hammered Groves, easily walking away with a 44-0 victory.
    Many of the names and strategies will be the same this season, but Pennington is less concerned with the outcome of the scrimmage as he is with specific things that he wants to see out of his squad.
    “We aren’t too concerned with what Groves is doing,” said Pennington. “Our evaluation has more to do with how we judge ourselves. We’re hoping to find the players that we can hang our hats on. Most of all, this is a great opportunity for people to step up.”
    The scrimmage will consist of six periods. Each varsity squad will have four minutes on offense, followed by the JV teams getting the same time to work their offense. The scrimmage will conclude with two periods of game condition play in which turnovers will count and special teams may be used.
    Statesboro begins regular season play August 27 as the Devils travel to defending region champion Brunswick.

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