Just as time always seems to do, football season goes by way too fast.
And for Bulloch County it was far from the best football season experienced by an area used to a rich football tradition. But the last week gave some solace to a few programs.
Portal capped their season with a 27-6 win over Claxton to avoid a winless season. Southeast Bulloch pushed above the .500 mark with a 49-0 win over Johnson and Screven County shocked the state by thumping Jefferson County 49-34.
Unfortunately, not every school had their happy ending.
Most notably, Statesboro — who fell to 0-10 following a 35-9 loss where the Blue Devil’s surrendered 28 unanswered points. Other area teams such as Jenkins County, Johnson County and Metter couldn’t avoid the season ending loss either.
So let’s take a look at all the teams in and around Bulloch County one final time before the playoffs finally take hold this weekend:
Last Friday was a microcosm of Statesboro’s 2016 season. The Blue Devils started out well and even took a lead early in the second quarter. But up 9-7, Statesboro gave up four touchdowns in a row to fall 35-9 in their final game in front of a home crowd.
Statesboro struggled to stop the run all night, something they had struggled to do all season. Davis Wiggins did his best coming back from injury at quarterback, but simply didn’t play like his early season self as Statesboro’s offense only managed 3.4 yards per play.
Even after everything that’s happened, it still seems hard to fathom Statesboro couldn’t manage at least one win out of this schedule. This is a team through the Pythagorean wins theorem has 1.4 wins -- but you can make the argument this is a Statesboro team that could have gone 4-6.
What happens at Statesboro now? It’s tough to say. One can make the argument something has to change after the worst season in school history, but as to what will change is merely reckless speculation at this point. One thing is for sure, this will be an interesting story line to follow in the coming months.
SEB got to rest on Friday after jacking up Johnson 49-0 on Nov. 1. It was the fourth time this season the Yellow Jackets hung 40 or more points on a team and their second margin of victory of more than 40 points.
The game served as another showcase for fullback Chase Walker, who racked up 213 yards at 11.8 yards a pop and five touchdowns. With 21 scores on the year while averaging 6.9 yards a carry, Chase Walker might be the most productive and consistent back in southeast Georgia.
Even with Walker’s sustained success, a lot has been made about Southeast Bulloch not winning their region. SEB had ran the table with this group of teams the previous year, and with the weapons back on offense it seemed inevitable they would take home the region 3-3A crown.
But SEB has a chance to completely shift the narrative Friday when they travel to Worth County for the first round of the playoffs. If SEB were to win, they’d be the first Yellow Jacket team to do so in the playoffs in 43 years.
It’s no secret Portal’s had a frustrating season. Hurricane Matthew turned things upside down on their schedule, injuries at quarterback dampened the offense and that’s all on top of playing in a region where the Panthers are forced to play private schools who outclass them at every position.
So last Friday was a well-deserved win for the Panthers. Portal scored a season high 27 points and held Claxton to a season best six in what is their only win of 2016. Claxton was not a good team by any stretch of the word, but Portal was far due for a game like this.
The Panthers got touchdowns from Craig Ware, Fred Holloway, Billy Drummer and a 94-yard touchdown pass from Connor Washington to Ryan Ware. It was a small slice of what’s to come next year for Portal, as the Ware brothers and Washington will come back in 2017.
While 1-8 with a cancelled game isn’t a much of an accomplishment, head coach Matt Smith will at least have 31 players returning for the smallest football playing school in the state and something to build for next year.
The Gamecocks finally make an appearance in the prep roundup just in time for the playoffs. Screven’s entire season had been coming down to last Friday’s game against Jefferson County -- a game that’s decided the region 2-2A champion since 2014.
Screven took the championship by storm with a 15-point victory over the Warriors. Even without completing a pass the entire game, the Gamecocks still managed to score six offensive touchdowns and a pick-six from Kashawn Robinson.
Even more impressive, Screven held Jefferson to 16 yards rushing at 1.1 yards a carry. Coming into the game, Jefferson was averaging 7.4 yards a carry and 180 yards a game. Screven made a statement to the rest of class 2A that this could be the year they make it out of round two.
Screven gets paired up with a solid team from Toombs County on Friday in the first round, but their bracket ahead could be even tougher with Douglas, Callaway and Benedictine as possible opponents on their side of the bracket.
The rest of the area
• Emanuel County Institute: ECI runs the table 9-0 in their regular season for the first time since 2008 and will get a first round bye in the playoffs. According to the AJC, ECI has the fourth best odds to win the state title.
• Jenkins County: Following a strong start to their season, the Eagles finished out 1-5 -- including a 56-6 thumping at the end of the year to ECI. Finishing 4-5, Jenkins still missed the playoffs by just four spots in the power ratings.
• Johnson County: Another team who started out their season strong, Johnson dropped five in a row before winning their finale to Hancock Central 54-36. Johnson would finish one spot behind Jenkins in the power ratings.
• Metter: The Tigers suffered their worst season since 2012 when the Tigers went 2-8. Metter finished one game better this year at 2-7, but lost their last three games by a combined score of 116-28.
• Claxton: Following a decent run from 2008-2014, Claxton has hit rock bottom in 2016. The Tigers are on a 0-12 losing streak going back to Oct. 16 2015 when they beat Savannah Country Day 13-10.