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SHS wraps up season at Effingham

    It was a tumultuous season for the Blue Devils in 2015, but it all ends today with a subregion matchup against Effingham County.
    Statesboro High School has been riddled with injuries since the beginning of the year, and head coach Steve Pennington reported there was a little bit of an illness spreading around the team just days leading up to SHS’s final game of the season.
    However, there’s no excuses for this team, Pennington said. The Blue Devils (2-7, 2-5 Region 3-AAAAA), just two seasons removed from a 10-win season, will try to end the year on a positive against a longtime rival.
    “It’s a one-game season,” Pennington said with enthusiasm before a Thursday afternoon practice in his office. “It’s been a very energetic week. I credit our players and our coaches for persevering through a trying season.”
    Effingham County (6-3, 4-3) is no slouch and will look to carry out a win on the team’s senior night. The Blue Devils will need to put up a solid effort to snap their two-game losing streak. Here are a couple of notes to watch for today’s game.

Who to watch: DeMario Gant
    Pennington said the Rebels have one of the best wide receivers in the region in DeMario Gant. Gant, listed at 5’11 and just 145 pounds, the sophomore has the speed and agility to make a difference in the game.
    Against a stingy Glynn Academy defense, Gant had two touchdown catches. One for 30 yards and the other a 90-yard touchdown.
    “That joker can go,” Pennington said. “In my opinion he’s the best receiver in this region.”
    It should be a competitive matchup between Gant and the Blue Devils’ secondary.

What to watch: Devils’ scheming
    In the last two weeks, the Blue Devils have used different philosophies based on what seemed to be working in the game.
    Against Ware County, the Blue Devils made a more concerted effort to throw the ball. Ware County’s defense plugged up the inside running game, resulting in freshman quarterback Davis Wiggins throwing a season high in passing attempts and yards.
    However, against Glynn Academy last week, the Blue Devils ran the ball more effectively. Statesboro also rolled out their wildcat formation with Tupac Lanier taking direct snaps under center.
    “We’re going to base things on what we’ve always done, but at the same time we’ve added to (the playbook) that’s a part of the process of what we do,” Pennington said.

Key factor: Work the field
    Glynn Academy’s potent offense had several big plays, resulting in a 49-3 victory for the Red Terrors. Against Effingham County, the Blue Devils can not afford to give up the big play.
    Pennington said his defense needs to play disciplined and make the Rebels drive the length of the field.
    Statesboro punter Ryan Miller has the ability to pin the Rebels deep and the Blue Devils will have to capitalize.