Struggles at the beginning of the season put Statesboro in an unfamiliar spot.
As the season winds down, the situation hasn’t changed much.
A loss to top-ranked Ware County last week eliminated the Blue Devils (2-6, 2-4 Region 3-AAAAA) from postseason contention. It will be the first time Statesboro has missed out on the state playoffs since 1998.
Things won’t get much easier tonight as the Devils take a lengthy drive down to Brunswick to take on Glynn Academy (5-3, 4-2).
“It’s a constant in life that you have to face the reality of your situation,” SHS coach Steve Pennington said. “Right now, our reality is that there aren’t any playoffs. But that doesn’t mean that we give up. We still have plenty to work for.”
Last week’s 40-7 setback didn’t look great on the scoreboard, but Pennington thought that there were some positives to be had by his team. The Devils didn’t do much damage on the scoreboard, but their struggling power running offense did manage to put up over 200 yards on one of the better defenses in the state.
Tonight’s game against the Red Terrors poses a bit of a different challenge.
Glynn Academy is bigger up front, but doesn’t have the same lateral quickness as Ware. If the Devils continue to improve, there could be some bigger plays in store.
“We’ve been banged up on the line and that’s never good,” Pennington said. “A lot of younger guys have had to play. They’ve made some mistakes, but they’ve also started to show improvement.”
Even if the offense comes to life, the Devil defense is sure to have its hands full.
Many of the teams that Statesboro has played have leaned heavily on certain sets or tendencies. With the Red Terrors, there aren’t many ways to cheat.
“They’re about 50-50 on the run and pass,” Pennington said. “They do both well. It’s going to be a challenge because we can’t afford to commit extra guys to stopping just the run or the pass. It’s going to take a good all-around effort.”
If there is one person the Devils can key on, it will be Red Terror quarterback Zach Lamper. The senior signal caller has thrown for 874 yards and run for another 335. When dropping back, Lamper has the ability to extend plays to get his receivers open.
“He just has ‘it’,” Pennington said. “That guy gets it done.”
Statesboro is out of playoff contention, but this is a huge matchup for the Red Terrors.
Glynn Academy currently sits in fourth place in the region standings and can assure itself of a state playoff berth if it can win its final two games.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.