The lone Bulloch County team still alive in the postseason race is Southeast Bulloch. The Yellow Jackets (5-4, 5-1 Region 3-AAA) have already clinched a spot in the state playoffs and got one step closer to hosting a state playoff game with a 30-13 win on the road at Garden City against the Beach Bulldogs on Saturday.
The Jackets were led by Chase Walker who had 151 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Blaize Minick completed a touchdown pass to Tyler Bailey and Jaleel Hodge added a touchdown run.
Speaking of Walker, he is now tied with another pretty famous Walker for career touchdowns — the pride of Johnson County — Herschel Walker with 86. That’s good for 11th place all-time in the state of Georgia. Walker has also rushed for 5,713 with 1,390 coming this season. He has 22 touchdowns on the season and can move past the Heisman Trophy winner with one more trip to the end zone.
The two keys to the Yellow Jackets recent 5-game win streak have been winning the turnover battle and chewing up the clock on long touchdown drives. One of the Yellow Jackets' touchdown drives against Beach took eight minutes off the clock and another took seven minutes.
The Jackets will close the regular season at home against Windsor Forest with the winner hosting the first round of the playoffs as the No. 2 seed and the loser forced to hit the road to begin the postseason. The Knights are 7-2 on the season and are coached by former Statesboro High head coach Buzz Busby’s son, Gregg.
The Bulloch Academy Gators were the first area team to begin the postseason, and the first to see their season come to a close.
For the fourth straight season the Gators bowed out in the opening round of the GISA Class AAA state playoffs, falling to Deerfield-Windsor 40-10 in Albany.
Down by a score of 6-3 after one quarter of play the Gators were outscored 20-0 in the second quarter and were never able to recover. Three turnovers, including an interception returned for a touchdown contributed to the loss as well.
"We were right in there after the first quarter," said Bulloch Academy head coach Terrence Hennessy. “But we had a pick-6 to start the second, and then just couldn’t stop them and gave up three scores in the second quarter.”
The good news for the Gators is they have achieved a winning record and advanced to the state playoffs in each of Hennessy’s four seasons at BA, the bad is they haven’t been able to get past the first round.
“I feel we put ourselves in a bad spot,” said Hennessy, “The road that we could have been on had we won the region was a lot easier and hopefully we can achieve more next season.”
The Gators lose 10 seniors including nine starters, however Hennessy is encouraged about the future with young talent on the way.
“We are really going to miss this year’s seniors and what they have meant to our program,” said Hennessy, “ We had 41 players on this year’s team, which is the most since I’ve been here. We also had a JV team that went undefeated and expect some of them to contribute next year.”
The Gators end the season with a record of 6-5.
For the second straight year all the Statesboro Blue Devils had to do was beat a winless South Effingham team to punch their ticket to the state playoffs. And, once again, they were unable to do so.
Last year’s game with the Mustangs wasn’t very competitive as Statesboro fell 21-7. This time around Statesboro actually held a 17-14 halftime lead, but were shut out in the second half and saw their postseason dreams end in a 28-17 loss.
“I’m crushed for this year’s seniors that they won’t get that 11th game,” said Statesboro head coach Jeff Kaiser, “They’ve been here 4 years and it’s so tough that they missed the playoffs all 4 seasons. They are good boys and hard workers, and I’m sorry it didn’t play out the way we wanted it to.”
Next up for the Blue Devils is a trip down to Jesup to take on the Wayne County Yellow Jackets (7-1, 3-0).
The Jackets knocked off Ware County last Friday 28-14 and in the process locked up the region championship. Wayne beat New Hampstead 13-7 earlier this year, so even a loss to Statesboro would not affect the standings as they own an advantage in all tiebreakers.
The late season collapse continued last Friday for the Portal Panthers as they lost to Claxton at home 42-21. The Panthers dug themselves a 28-7 hole and despite a 14-14 second half the damage was already done.
One bright spot in the loss was the play of senior Craig Ware who rushed for 196 yards on 26 carries and had one touchdown. The Panthers actually out rushed Claxton 251 yards to 219, though the Tigers had another 157 through the air compared to just 58 for Portal.
Next up the Panthers wrap up the season at Treutlen County this Thursday. This is the region crossover game and both teams have 1-8 records. Portal opened the season at Treutlen County and lost 28-18.