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SHS hosts homecoming vs. Bradwell

    Statesboro High School is abuzz this week as the team gets ready to face Bradwell Institute for Homecoming today at Womack Field.
    Despite the excitement, getting a victory over the winless Bradwell Institute Tigers (0-6, 0-4 Region 3-AAAAA) won’t be an easy task, according to head coach Steve Pennington.
    The Blue Devils (1-5, 1-3)  have been hampered with injuries since the beginning of the season, however, coach Pennington will not allow his team to use injuries as an excuse.
    “If you harp on injuries, then it’s an alibi that if you don’t perform well it was because of injuries. In no way, form or fashion do I ever want to use that as a crutch,” Pennington said.
    The fact still remains that the Blue Devils are a little banged up. Since the start of the season against Burke County, Aug. 22, 14 players who were on the varsity squad will not dress out Today. Of those 14 players, nine played significant minutes in either the starter position or backup roles.
    Despite the injuries, Pennington said he believes there’s good that comes out it.
    “It is not a crutch and it is not an excuse. We’re not crying because no one else is feeling sorry for us,” said Pennington in his office Thursday afternoon before practice. “One, we get to pull together as a unit. Two, we find out if those who are being called upon respond positively, and three, we can see if those juniors and seniors who have been in the fire will be mentors to these younger players.”
    With a chance to get back into the region playoff race against sub-region opponents Bradwell Institute, here are a couple things to watch for in Friday’s game:

What to watch: Run game
    Even with starting running back Mahlon Williams banged up, the Blue Devils will still commit to its power running game. However, with a host of capable running backs in the backfield Pennington said he may use different personnel packages for different players.
    “Even though we are still going to run the power game, the dynamics (that our running backs) bring our a little different then what (Mahlon Williams) brings. (Williams) is a bigger back, but I was very pleased with the way we responded after Mahlon went down last week,” Pennington said.
    Tyler Gordon and Jalen Davis combined for two touchdowns and 98 yards on the ground. The Blue Devils will need big games from them, as well as running back Tupac Lanier, in order to be successful.

Who to watch: Davis Wiggins
    The sophomore quarterback for the Blue Devils has progressed each game out on the field. Coach Pennington has been known to mix in the passing game with the power run in order to keep defenses honest.
    Wiggins can change the course of the game with one accurate pass, however, against Richmond Hill the Blue Devils’ receiving core had a few dropped passes that could have cut into an early deficit.
    Wiggins threw for 65 yards on 6-for-16 passing and two interceptions. A lot of Wiggins’ passing attempts could have been caught balls.
    Coach Pennington said it’s important for Wiggins to continue his good play and keep his confidence up.

Key factor: Fast start
    Against the Tigers, Statesboro can not turn the ball over. The Blue Devils took a step backwards against Richmond Hill, according to Pennington.
    SHS were hampered with two safeties early on, and turned the ball over twice on two interceptions.
    On Homecoming with several members of the GHSA AAAA State Championship Blue Devils team in the building at Womack Field, it will be key for Statesboro to get off to a fast start.
    Bradwell is also a team that can move the ball on opposing defenses, despite only averaging 6.6 points per game.