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Sizing things up: Bulloch County coaches address Rotary Club
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    The Statesboro Rotary Club got to know its local high school football teams as coaches of Statesboro, Southeast Bulloch, Portal and Bulloch Academy addressed the club during Monday’s weekly meeting at Forest Heights Country Club.
    Each coach spent a few minutes touting their respective programs and joked around with a crowd that seemed ready to get the football season underway.
    Two coaches — Cherard Freeman of Portal and Pat Collins of Southeast Bulloch — took the opportunity to get to know their fans, as both are beginning their tenure as head coach at their respective schools.
    Freeman was optimistic for the future of his Panthers.
    Although Portal has finished with a 1-9 mark in each of the past three years, Freeman sees the potential in this year’s squad to get things turned around.
    “It’s been kind of rough, but all of our guys are still excited to be out there,” said Freeman. “We only had one win last season, but if you would have given us 17 points and told us to use them wherever we wanted, this would have been a 5-5 team.”
    Collins was also hopeful for the fortunes of this season’s Yellow Jacket squad
    “When I interviewed for the job at SEB, I said that we needed three things,” said Collins. “I asked for staff, stuff and a lot of hard work.”
    Collins went on to talk about the impressive assistant coaching staff that the Jackets have assembled. Former Statesboro coach Jack Webb will serve as SEB’s defensive coordinator, and Josh Thompson – who starred at Statesboro before going on to play at Auburn – was hired away from his spot last year as the defensive line coach for the Blue Devils.
    Collins also mentioned all of the new equipment that generous donations from the community had enabled and attributed the “hard work” part of his equation to this season’s team.
    “Our guys are very committed to improving this season,” said Collins. “(Former SEB coach) Fred Shaver talked to our guys earlier. He commended our seniors. He told them that they’ve gone through three years without much success. That shows a lot of character, and that’s what we need to build this program back up.”
    All four coaches were expressive of their appreciation for a community that has provided the resources for all of the programs to grow.
    “It’s amazing how much the local businesses support us,” said Statesboro coach Steve Pennington. “These are some tough economic times, but every year, the members of our community keep giving and are there to support us. That really means a lot to us, and I’m sure that the coaches at the other schools in Bulloch County feel the same way.”
    One more method of support that each coach asked was for everyone to come out each week and support their teams in person.
    Scrimmages started up last week and will continue through this Friday, and the regular season will officially be under way August 26 as Bulloch Academy hosts David Emanuel Academy at Gator Alley.

    Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.