SE Bulloch (3-4, 3-0) at Jenkins (5-2, 3-0)
7:30 p.m., Saturday
WORKING FOR THE WEEKEND: Savannah schools often play at odd times as many teams play home games at Memorial Stadium, but this is a rare Saturday game for the Jackets. Earlier in the season, a short week didn’t seem to faze SEB as it rolled to a Thursday night win over Savannah High. Collins said that the extra week allowed for extra film study and that tonight should be like any Friday for his team.
WHO SCORES FIRST?: With two diametrically opposed offenses, the pace and feel of the game could easily be determined by which team is able to score the game’s first points. If either team is able to possess both the lead and the ball at the same time, the game will either speed up or slow down dramatically.
FOOT-BALL GAME: In a game pitting two teams with perfect sub-region records, just a point or two could be the difference. For close games, the attention turns to special teams. Both the Warriors and Jackets have dependable punt and field goal units and both coaches will likely be comfortable putting the game on the foot of their respective kickers if need be.
BROOKLET — It’s safe to say that the rough start for Southeast Bulloch is all but forgotten.
The Yellow Jackets (3-4, 3-0 Region 1-AAA) dropped their first four games of the season, but haven’t lost since mid-September. More importantly, the Jackets’ current three-game winning streak began at the same time that sub-region play started up.
Now, SEB faces its most crucial game of the season.
Tonight, the Jackets travel to Memorial Stadium in Savannah to take on Jenkins (5-2, 3-0) in a game that will likely determine the sub-region champion. Following next week’s games, the top four teams from each sub-region will be paired up with a team from the opposite side and will hold a play-in that will see the winner advance to the state playoffs.
“We know this game is important,” SEB coach Pat Collins said. “Mostly, it’s important because it’s our next game. We know the ramifications of what a win or a loss might bring. Looking at the other side, it seems like we could have similar matchups no matter who we play. So for now, our focus is just on Jenkins.”
The SEB defense should definitely be focused as the Warriors haven’t been shy about piling up the points this season.
Utilizing plenty of athletes and a spread attack, Jenkins is averaging 33.4 points per game in their five wins.
The Jackets struggled against the spread offenses of Pierce County and South Effingham early in the season, but have shut down similar styles in each of the past three weeks.
Offensively, the Jackets will again lean heavily on one of their youngest players.
Freshman Chase Walker exploded for 306 yards and a pair of touchdowns last week and is closing in fast on the 1,000 yard mark for the season. Walker — along with fellow running back Mike Davis and quarterback Jaylon Wells — have the Jacket offense looking more like last year’s powerful attack with each passing week.
“One thing that might help us is having some familiarity with what we’re up against,” Collins said. “We’ve seen plenty of spread-type offenses this season. We have concerns about the things that Jenkins can do, but we know what to expect.
“On the other hand, Jenkins hasn’t seen much of what we do offensively. Hopefully that can be an advantage for us.”
Throughout the Jackets’ streak, Collins has given a lot of credit for the success on SEB’s improved ball control. In a battle of two vastly different offenses, that will be key once again.
SEB makes little attempt to be flashy or go for the big play. If the Jackets can run their methodical offense as well as they have recently, it could leave the Warriors’ playmakers getting antsy on the sidelines.
Conversely, a few quick strikes by Jenkins would put the SEB offense in a tough spot.
“It all comes down to how we execute,” Collins said. “We believe in what we do as a football team. We have our style. If we play our game well, we believe we’ll be in a position to win.”
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.