BROOKLET — Southeast Bulloch’s push for the state playoffs enters the home stretch as the Yellow Jackets have two more region games to determine if they’ll make the postseason.
Currently the Yellow Jackets (3-4, 3-2 in 3-AAA) sit in third place in the region standings, trailing only Jenkins and Savannah. They own the tiebreaker with Islands, with whom they are currently tied, as well as Windsor Forest, who sits at 3-3 in region play.
Just behind SEB is Beach (2-6, 2-3) who the Yellow Jackets will face tonight in a critical region matchup. A win secures a playoff spot for the Yellow Jackets and still leave them with an outside shot of being able to host a playoff game should Savannah stumble in its final two games.
But before any of that can happen, SEB has to first deal with Beach, a team that has beaten the teams they were supposed to beat in Johnson and Groves who are a combined 1-13 on the season, but losing to everyone else on their schedule.
Despite their record, Yellow Jackets’ Head Coach Pat Collins said the Bulldogs have several talented and explosive players.
“These teams come in here have very good athletes, and Beach is no exception,” he said. “They have a couple of receivers and running backs that are really talented.
“We have to play fundamental football and play well when we’re a little short, athletically,” Collins said. “We make up for it by how play as a team.”
The Bulldogs have struggled offensively, averaging only 13 points per game while surrendering almost 33 points defensively.
Southeast Bulloch, meanwhile, comes in averaging 29 points per game and is coming off a game in which they put up 49 points over Groves.
Fullback Chase Walker went over 1,000 yards on the season last week for the Yellow Jackets in a game in which he rushed for 202 yards on only 11 carries. Quarterback Cable Carter hit the 500-yard mark on the season and threw two touchdown passes in the win.
Carter’s passing ability will be key for the Yellow Jackets as they expect Beach to crowd the line of scrimmage to shut down the SEB running game.
“We’re passing the ball a little more and doing it more confidently and that will make teams that want to crowd us think a little differently,” Collins said.
On the season, the Yellow Jackets as a team have rushed for 1,970 yards and 24 touchdowns, using their ball-control offense to try and set the tone for each game of the season.
Defensively, Johnathan Volskay continues to anchor the defense with 65 tackles to go along with a fumble recovery and an interception on the year. Jontrell Wells had two interceptions last week to add to his two fumble recoveries on the season.
That defense will have to contend with the explosiveness of the Bulldogs receivers and running backs. Collins said they have shown the ability in the past to take a short pass and make a couple of defenders miss and turn it in to a big play.
Proper positioning and tackling will be crucial for the Yellow Jackets to keep the Bulldogs off the scoreboard.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 at Fred Shaver Field and can be streamed online beginning at 7:20 at www.statesboroherald.com.