With the injuries continuing to mount and the team’s star running back still on the sideline due to injury, the Blue Devils of Statesboro High School will travel to Waycross as the underdogs in a game against Ware County.
However, Statesboro (2-5, 2-3 Region 3-AAAAA) has been considered the underdog against the Gators (5-2, 3-2) before in the past, and the Blue Devils have come out on top.
It’s Homecoming week for the Gators, which means Memorial Stadium will be packed with raucous fans.
The Blue Devils are coming off a thrilling 13-10 victory over Bradwell Institute and will try to extend the winning streak to two games.
“Ware County gets after it in every facet of the game. If the motor could go 100 miles per hour, they’re going to go at 110,” said SHS head coach Steve Pennington. “Everything they do is full tilt with an intent and purpose. When you have that mindset and couple that with good coaching, it makes it mark.
“They’re going to pack that house and get after it.”
As Statesboro gets ready to take on Ware County today, take a look at some factors that may be important in this sub-region matchup.
What to watch: Special teams
Special teams was an important piece in the Blue Devils’ overtime win against Bradwell Institute, and it will certainly play a big role today.
The Gators are known for their aggressive style of play in punt coverage and may try to take advantage of the Blue Devils’ banged up offensive line.
Ware County also has the ability to return kickoffs and punts for a touchdown.
Kicker and punter Ryan Miller can easily affect the field position for Statesboro, but other factors are in play in order for the Blue Devils to have a successful game on special teams.
Hopefully, the Blue Devils will be able to pin the Gators deep and prevent Ware County from having short-field situations.
“It’s one of those gameplans you hope for, because everything else has to work in place,” Pennington said. “Your offense has to move the ball to get it to midfield in order to get into field position. Anything to make (Ware County) drive the length of the field would be an added plus to us.”
Who to watch: Dedrick Mills
Dedrick Mills is a threat to score anytime he touches the ball. Mills, listed at 5’10” and weighing in at 211 pounds, averages 7.2 yards per carry.
In a loss to Effingham County last week, Mills had season-highs in both carries (16) and yards (127). The Gators’ senior has 10 rushing touchdowns on the year and 12 total.
The Blue Devils’ defense will have to keep number 26 out of the endzone in order to be successful.
Pennington despite giving up plenty of yardage, his team’s defense showed up to play and had a solid game against Bradwell.
SHS defense allowed just one score and forced a couple of turnovers on interceptions.
Key factor: Confidence
Confidence can play a huge role in any sport and right now the momentum is on the side of the Statesboro Blue Devils.
The Blue Devils snapped a two-game losing streak with the win over Bradwell Institute in overtime. After winning the first five games of the season, the Gators have lost two games in a row.
The Homecoming atmosphere could add just a little bit of extra pressure for Ware County.
“Even as good as they are, when you come off the field defeated it frays your confidence, somewhat,” Pennington said. “I know they’ll be ready to play and we’ve got to come out there and be ready.”
Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.