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SEB ready to take next step
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Southeast Bulloch running back Chase Walker, top, leaps into the end zone during the Yellow Jackets' sub-region clinching victory over Jenkins last season at Fred Shaver Field in Brooklet. Walker and the Jackets are hungry for more wins in 2016.

    If there’s a wager to place on a Bulloch County team who has a shot at a region championship, look no further than the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets.
    Southeast Bulloch was undefeated in their sub-division last year, but dropped games to Dodge and Pierce County to fall two games short of a full region one, AAA title. However this year the Yellow Jackets were dealt a favorable hand in the form of a new region.
    “You know we still have a long way to go,” said head coach Pat Collins. “But we’re optimistic going into our season.”
    SEB will be reclassified into Region 3 of Class AAA, where they keep all the same teams from Region 1, but add Groves High School (formerly of Region 2-AA) and Windsor Forest (from 3-AAAA). So while the teams may be different, the Savannah-based landscape hasn’t changed.
    With no Dodge or Pierce on the schedule this season and all the teams they beat in region coming back from a year ago, the Jackets look to be the favorite to win their first region title since 1994 when SEB competed at the Class A level.
    “We’ve certainly got a lot of pieces to work with,” said offensive line coach Brian Peterson. “This week will definitely tell us a lot more since we’ll be in pads for the first time.”
    Unlike the GISA, the GHSA requires teams to have a full week of heat acclimation in helmets before they can run in full pads. Peterson said the team was fortunate they’ve had some cloud cover over the past week and haven’t missed any substantial practice time because of high wet bulb readings.
    “There were some periods where we had to take more frequent breaks,” Peterson said. “But we were lucky to never have to cancel a practice.”
    Collins bragged about his teams’ intangables: work ethic, hustle and good attitudes. It’s something his team will need as they’ll be replacing nine starters on defense, but having 91 players coming out for football will help with that issue as well.
    The Yellow Jackets will run the wing-t again in 2016 under Collins in his 7th year as head coach. Collins believes he has the horses to compete in his new region, especially on the offensive line.
    “I think we really have some good size on the line of scrimmage this year,” Collins said. “They’re very strong too. Having all that up front surely won’t hurt us this season.”
    Peterson said his lineman weighed in on average around 270 pounds over the summer. With the last period of the school day being focused on weights and running plays in the gym, he expects the group to only get better as the season goes on.
    “We really excited about this group,” Peterson said. “I’m ready to see what these guys can do with some contact.”
    The Yellow Jackets won’t officially start their season until August 26, but will get some tune up scrimmages in between. Next Friday they’ll clash with local rival Statesboro then get a final tune up against Portal the next week on the 19.

    Chris Stanley may be reached at (912) 489-9408.