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Region playoffs right around the corner


   With a few games left in the regular season, the Statesboro High School boys soccer team are taking the next steps to prepare for a region playoff matchup against Camden County High School.
 Here’s a brief look at how the Blue Devils have faired so far this season.
SHS boys soccer
At first glance: 6-6-1,  4-4 region
Last five games: 3-2
Notes: Blue Devils have secured the No. 3 seed in the sub-region.
     Overview: With losses to Effingham and Richmond Hill, the Blue Devils are set to face Camden County (8-4, 5-3 region) in the first round of the region playoffs.
 SHS graduated a large senior class last season (12), and with only five seniors in the lineup this year, the team has had to come together quickly.
    Despite having a relatively young group on the field, head coach Nick Thrower said his youthful team exceeded expectations this season.
     “We’ve been kind of the underdogs, but we’ve been able to compete with the amount of effort they put in,” Thrower said.
     The Blue Devils have one non-conference game left on the schedule against Southeast Bulloch Thursday and will face Camden in the first round of the region playoffs Tuesday.
     “I think we’re going to be a lot tougher and a lot stronger (than Camden County). I think our overall strength will be an advantage,” Thrower said. “Right now it’s definitely a one-game-at-a-time mentality. It’s all about fighting for another game.”
     As the boys team prepares for its fight against Camden, the girls soccer team have their eyes set on Glynn Academy.
     Injuries have plagued the Lady Blue Devils this season, but still have a chance to reach the team’s pre-season goal of making it to the state playoffs.
     Here’s a look at where the SHS girls soccer stands this season.
SHS girls soccer
At first glance: 5-6, 3-4 region
Last five games: 3-2
Notes: The Lady Blue Devils could be without two senior starters for the start of the region playoffs on Monday.
    Overview: After wins over Brunswick High School, Bradwell Institute and Effingham County, the Lady Blue Devils dropped two region games against South Effingham and Richmond Hill.
     The region losses put SHS at the four seed in the sub-region, setting up a matchup against No. 1 seed Glynn Academy.
     “At this point in the season we feel like they’re a quality team, but I feel like we can play with anyone in the region,” said SHS girls soccer coach Brian Thomas. “We set a goal to advance into the state playoffs and that goal is still in front of us.”
     If the Lady Blue Devils are to reach its goal, the team may have to do so without the leadership of two seniors. Regan Thomas had an injury setback that could sideline her for possibly two games, and Emmalyne Sisson suffered an injury in a non-region game against Bulloch Academy.
     “Some of the younger girls have gotten a lot of experience and have had some valuable playing time for us,” Thomas said. “We just want them to do the little things well. We’re just asking them to help us keep position and send well…quality passes.”
     Coach Thomas said he expects his senior class to step up and play to the level of their competition.
 The Lady Blue Devils have one last test against Southeast Bulloch before Monday’s playoff region game.
   “I feel like it’s a came we can compete in. Our girls will be really up for this one,” Thomas said.
SEB girls soccer
    It appears as though Southeast Bulloch’s girls soccer team will face Jenkins in the first round of the region playoffs. Here’s a look at how the team has done so far this season.
At first glance: 8-5, 8-2 region
Last five games: 2-3
Notes: SEB girls soccer defeated Jenkins earlier in the season 6-0.
    Overview: With an exciting 3-2 penalty-kick win over Islands High School, the Lady Yellow Jackets are looking at the No.3 seed in the region playoffs and a rematch against Jenkins High School (5-9) in the first round.
    Southeast Bulloch’s win over Islands snapped a three-game losing streak for the Lady Yellow Jackets.
     Despite a 6-0 victory over Jenkins on March 3, SEB head coach Kristen Barnhill said the potential rematch against the Warriors won’t be an easy win.
    “It was early in the season and we just wanted to get out and play. They’ve (Jenkins) been playing better recently,” Barnhill said.
    The Lady Yellow Jackets have also progressed as a team. Barnhill said she switched her team’s formation from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-2-3-1 formation.
    The change gives the Lady Yellow Jackets the option of having more athletes on the field, she said.
    “It’s a very good counter-attacking formation. I think we’re starting to play more possessions,” Barnhill said. “I think we’re really trying to understand the system and making more passes and making better runs. That’s what we’re trying to focus on here and hopefully we can keep putting the ball in the net.”
    Southeast Bulloch’s boys soccer team have had a successful year, and are looking to finish the season on a high-note. Here’s a look at how the Yellow Jackets have done so far.
SEB boys soccer
At first glance: 10-3, 8-2 region
Last five games: 4-1
Notes: SEB is second in the region 1-AAA soccer standings, just behind Savannah Arts Academy.
    Overview: Southeast Bulloch’s boys soccer team has played well all season. The Yellow Jackets started the season winning six out of the team’s first seven games. SEB wrapped up its region schedule with a 5-4 win over Islands on the road.  The win prevented SEB from having two back-to-back region losses. The Yellow Jackets will face Statesboro today and then Vidalia on Friday to conclude the regular season.
    SEB could potentially host a home game in the region playoffs, which would test the team’s undefeated home winning streak. The Yellow Jackets have won six games in a row at home, with all of the team’s losses coming on the road.

Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.