BROOKLET — Southeast Bulloch has run the gauntlet of brutal region games for most of the last two months, but tonight offers the Yellow Jackets another crack at getting their third win of the season.
The Jackets (2-6, 0-6 Region 3-AA) travel to Dublin to take on East Laurens (0-9, 0-7), which has had its own struggles with the talented region schedule.
SEB will be looking to get back in the win column and snap a six-game losing streak in a year that – despite a losing record – has seen the program take some big steps forward.
“We’ve been pursuing the same goals all year,” said SEB coach Pat Collins. “We wanted to end that 19-game losing streak we were on, and we were pleased to do that in the first game of the season. Our next goal is to win a region game. It’s something we haven’t done yet, and a goal that we’ve been working hard for all year.”
Actually, a region victory is something that has eluded the Jackets for over two years. SEB opened the 2008 season with a win at Dodge County, but has dropped its last 25 contests to the teams of a loaded region that has seen four members ranked in state polls since the streak began.
“There have definitely been some very good teams on our schedule,” said Collins. “But that doesn’t change our objective. Some games, we’ve looked good, and in others, not so good. It hasn’t always shown on the scoreboard, but I believe that we’re improving.”
Continued improvement could help SEB finally snap its region slide. East Laurens looked like an up-and-coming team two years ago, falling just short of the state playoffs. Since then, it has been all downhill for the Falcons. East Laurens fell to 2-8 last year and has come within 14 points of an opponent this season.
A suspect defense has contributed to the downfall for the Falcons and could provide an opportunity for the SEB offense — which has scored just 24 points in region play — to get back on track.
“They run an eight man front,” said Collins. “They can bring a lot of people up near the line and try to stop the run. They’ve also got a good bit of size on their defensive line, so we’re going to have to execute on our assignments.”
Offensively, East Laurens is a wing-T team that focuses on a handful of runners and tries to keep opponents off balance with power and speed plays.
Running back Demetrius McNeil is the Falcons’ biggest threat, and he has been turned to more often as East Laurens has tried to scratch out a late-season win.
While the Jackets may be favored, they are also aware that East Laurens’ lack of a win makes it most dangerous. As a team that seems to be recovering from a long slump, all of the players on the SEB sideline know how hungry the Falcons are for a win.
“They have more talent than their record would indicate,” said Collins. “I don’t think that any of us are taking them lightly. We’ve had two weeks to prepare, which could benefit us, but I think that it’s a pretty even matchup. Whichever team is able to limit mistakes and hold onto the ball is the one that will walk away win a win.”
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.