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Prep teams brace for race to postseason

    Time is winding down for possible postseason births for a couple area teams, while for another couple things are looking pretty good.
    The Statesboro Blue Devils and Bulloch Academy Gators each play in five team regions and both need wins to secure the postseason.  For the Screven County Gamecocks and Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets it’s not a question of will they make it, but what seed can they lock up.

Statesboro High
    The Blue Devils enter their bye week 0-2 in region play but could actually earn a three or four seed in the state tournament with two games remaining, home against South Effingham and on the road at Wayne County.
    This past Friday night they once again put up a fight against top 20 ranked Ware County, tying the game at 21-21 in the third quarter, only to see the Gators outscore them 14-0 the rest of the way, as they dropped to 2-5 on the season.
    “When you turn the ball over you’re going to have a hard time winning,” said Statesboro head coach Jeff Kaiser, in reference to the Blue Devils three turnovers Friday against Ware County. “We’ve been in every game to this point because we have not turned the ball over.  Tonight those turnovers contributed to the loss.”
    One bright spot in the game was the play of Tupac Lanier who not only rushed for 160 yards on only 10 carries, he also came up with a few tackles on defense, playing on that side of the ball for the first time this season.
    “He hasn’t played a lick on defense all year,” said Kaiser, “He has not practiced one day but he made several plays out there.  The biggest reason we put him over there was to show our kids that playing fast, hard and physical you can overcome many things.”
    Following the Blue Devils bye week this week they have the more winnable game on paper of their two remaining, as they will host 0-8 South Effingham Oct. 20.  Last year the game was in Guyton and both teams were winless on the season with the Mustangs coming out on top 21-7.

Southeast Bulloch
    It was an odd day to play for the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets, but the Jackets will take the win any day of the week, as Southeast Bulloch knocked off Savannah High 23-22 on a walk-off game winning kick as time expired by Jacob Sandhagen. 
    “We needed this, we needed to believe that we can win a game like this and compete.” said Southeast Bulloch head coach Steve Pennington. “ I’m so proud of the resiliency and the spirit that we displayed with less than a minute to go in the game.”
    Southeast Bulloch took a 21-14 lead in the fourth quarter, only to tee Savannah High come back, score a touchdown with just over a minute to play in the game and then take a 22-21 lead on a two-point conversion with 64 seconds remaining in the game.
    “Every Wednesday we work on the two minute drill,” said Pennington, “We practiced it yesterday (Wednesday) and it paid off tonight, so we must be doing something right.”
    Next up the Yellow Jackets should get another chance to rest some starters as they travel to 0-7 Groves who have been outscored 266-42 this season.

Bulloch Academy
    The Bulloch Academy Gators were in the drivers seat on the road to a region championship, and the wheels seem to be falling off.
    Two weeks ago it was a battle for the top spot in the region and they lost to Fredrica 28-21, that was followed by last Friday’s match up with Trinity Christian for home field in the state playoffs and they fell 32-13.  This week it’s a fight just to get into the state playoffs as they travel to 2-6 Pinewood.
    Last Friday was senior night and despite falling in an early 12-0 hole, the Gators responded with back-to-back scores by Brandon Merrill and Jake Nelson to grab a 13-12.  That lead was short lived though as the Crusaders struck quickly with a 67-yard touchdown pass to take an 18-13 halftime lead.
    The second half was all Crusaders as Trinity outscored Bulloch Academy 14-0 in the second half as the Gator offense managed just two first downs, and they’d end up falling 32-13. 
    Next up the Gators travel to their old rival Pinewood, and despite a 2-6 season and being winless in region play,  a victory by the Patriots would send them to the state playoffs and leave the Gators with a 5-5 record and end their season.
Screven County
    The Gamecocks of Screven County have plenty of reason to crow this season.  Not only are they a perfect 6-0 on the season but have outscored their opponents 276-33 including four straight shutouts.
    The Gamecocks are ranked No. 2  in Class AA and look to be getting stronger and stronger, if that is possible.  This past Friday they beat Westside (Augusta) 49-0, rolling out to a 35-0 halftime lead and then - with a running clock the entire second half - they added two touchdowns in the third quarter to put things away.
    With offensive stars like Armani Bunbury, Tyquan Johnson, CJ Wright, EJ Robinson and Tim Hunt only playing two or three quarters a game the Gamecocks will be quite rested come state playoff time, even though their personal stats may be a little down.
    This week the Gamecocks return home to Kelly Memorial Field as they host the 1-6 Josey Eagles in a game that may be similar to their last four shutout victories.

    The Portal Panthers have shown a few flashes of the team head coach Matt Smith thought they may be this year but have been outscored 125-23 the past three games including the most recent loss, a 44-3 defeat at Calvary Day.
    This week the Panthers head back to Savannah to take on another of the Savannah area private schools, this time it’s Savannah Christian.
    The Red Raiders are 3-3 on the season but the three wins have come against McIntosh, Claxton and Treutlen County by a combined 98-41.  The Panthers lost to both McIntosh and Treutlen earlier this year.