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Multiple scrimmages on deck for prep football programs
seb football web
Southeast Bulloch defender Joseph Anderson corals Jenkins quarterback Javonte Middleton during an Oct. 23 game in Brooklet last season.

    The 2016 Georgia High School Association football season is rapidly approaching. As schools gear up for yet another year, with a state championship as the goal, coaches around the state are also looking at a new crop of youngsters to step into starting roles.
    Some coaches have decided to take advantage of GHSA’s spring football practice rule which allows schools to forgo spring practice in order to hold a second scrimmage game or controlled scrimmage against another school in the fall.
    In Bulloch County, Southeast Bulloch and Portal Middle High School skipped spring practice in order to compete in an additional fall scrimmage game.
    The rule, implemented four years ago according to GHSA Associate Director over football Tommy Whittle, was created in order to help smaller schools with potential athletic scheduling issues.
    “At the time, we were hoping more schools would take advantage and not do spring practice because it was really interfering with spring sports,” said Whittle. “We were trying to help smaller schools that really don’t want to hold spring practice and get them out there with just half of their team.”
    Schools must choose whether or not to hold spring practices by Feb. 1 of each year, according to GHSA bylaws.
    For schools like PMHS, skipping spring practices seems to be the right way to go.
    “Number wise, that’s one of the battles we’ve had in the past. Sometimes it’s a disadvantage playing against teams twice our size. If our numbers work out, that will give us some much-needed depth,” said Portal head football coach Matt Smith. “We’re really looking forward to getting started. We’ve had 10 or 15 kids express interest in playing football. We’ll probably have 40 to 45 kids.”
    Whittle said around 80 percent of schools decide to hold spring practice while 20 percent opt out.
    Southeast Bulloch didn’t hold a “traditional” spring practice, however, many football players were able to exercise in the weight room, SEB head football coach Pat Collins said.
    The Yellow Jackets’ offensive line, known for their physicality, has the potential to stronger and more physical this year.
    “We’ve had a very productive semester with our weight class. We’ve been able to work about 60 boys all semester and they’ve shown some significant growth with our strength program,” Collins said. “About two years ago, we elected as a staff to follow the (GHSA) model of having two scrimmages in the fall.”
    Collins said SEB’s weight program is a major key to the team’s success. This year’s team has shown the will to continue to get better and improve daily, he said.
    “We believe the stronger and more flexible athletes will produce better and play with more confidence."
    The Yellow Jackets' weight lifting program shattered school records this year and SEB’s weight lifting team won a state championship in the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association competition at Jefferson High School.
    The Yellow Jackets dominated the competition, scoring 120 points. The next best school scored just 72.
    Statesboro High School held spring practice this year.
    Coming off back-to-back 2-8 seasons, head coach Steve Pennington said holding spring practices helps coaches understand their team’s potential before the fall football schedule.
    “There’s no doubt there’s pros and cons both ways, but just from experience and my take on it, the two scrimmages may be more beneficial for the smaller schools,” Pennington said. “When you have smaller numbers, you kind of have an idea of what you have and who can do what. On a smaller scale, it’s really beneficial to have two scrimmages.
    “We believe here (at Statesboro High School), and I can’t speak for smaller schools, but we have almost 120 players right now. By practicing now, it already gives us an early jump on evaluations.”
    The Blue Devils have a slew of players looking to step into the spotlight in the upcoming football season. Pennington said SHS cornerback Dante’ Boyd, defensive ends Robert Lee, Jordan Wright and David King will be a few players that could make an impact on the season.
    Second-year quarterback Davis Wiggins, running back Tupac Lanier and offensive lineman Connor McBride are also players to look out for, Pennington said.