BROOKLET — Since taking over at Southeast Bulloch in 2010, head coach Pat Collins has been consistent with his plans for the Yellow Jackets.
SEB runs the ball, and does it well.
Even as a young and inexperienced group of Jackets limped out of the gate with four straight losses, the approach remained the same. Fast forward a little over a month and the Jackets are now 4-4 and have wrapped up their sub-region title.
“I have to give a lot of credit to a lot of people,” Collins said. “Throughout the season, our assistant coaches have preached to our guys to stay the course. Our older players have bought in and continued to work hard on what we do instead of getting down about some losses.”
The Jackets’ Wing-T running game might not be the flashiest, but now that it’s firing on all cylinders SEB is once again looking like a state playoff team.
While the methodical offense put up three touchdowns in the Jackets’ 22-21 win over Jenkins Saturday, it was an unusual gamble that put SEB over the top.
After scoring to get within 21-20 with just under three minutes to play, the Jackets sent the extra point through the uprights. But after the kick, a personal foul was called on the Warriors for roughing the kicker.
“At first, the refs didn’t even consult me,” Collins said. “I knew that we could take the kick and get 15 yards on the kickoff, but we also had the option to take half the distance to the goal line and try again.”
In a move that had SEB fans on the edge of their seats, Collins opted to take the tying point off the scoreboard and go for a two-point conversion.
Freshman running back Chase Walker made good on his coach’s gamble, using a second effort to just barely break the goal line. When the Yellow Jacket defense held on Jenkins’ final possession, the sub-region belonged to SEB.
“I’ve been coaching for 25 years,” Collins said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been on the winning end in a game where we were such a decided underdog. It’s a testament to the confidence and belief that our guys play with.”
According to Collins, there have been a few simple keys that have led to the Jackets’ turnaround.
Through the first month of the season, SEB was constantly losing the battle for field position. The Jackets also weren’t executing their offense and left their defense on the field for far too long.
Against Jenkins, the Jackets ran 63 plays to the Warriors’ 36. The week before, SEB held a 62-27 advantage in plays run against Johnson.
Dating back to the start of their winning streak, the Jackets have also controlled field position. Collins rates a position battle as being won if an opponent starts inside its 30 or if his team begins a drive outside of its own 30. In four straight games, the Jackets have won the majority of those battles.
“I know I sound like a broken record,” Collins said. “But I firmly believe that its things like those that go a long way in winning football games.
“That’s what we teach. We have our plan. We know what we’re trying to do in each game. We’ve started executing those things and we’ve starting winning football games.”
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.