Many coaches will say that the biggest improvement for a football team occurs between the first and second game of the season. Statesboro High coach Steve Pennington is always looking for big leaps forward from his team, but there is no doubting that the Blue Devils looked more fluid and in sync in a 42-13 drubbing of Richmond Academy last week.
Statesboro excelled in all facets of the game, moving the ball through the air and on the ground, constantly stuffing the Musketeers’ offense, and patching up some special teams holes that had been one of the few sour notes in its season opening win.
The Devils — ranked ninth in the latest Georgia Sports Writers Association poll — seem to have all the makings of the latest championship-caliber team in school history. Of course, there is still a long way to go before region titles and state playoff contention enter the discussion.
For now, the Devils are content to just continue the improvement process heading into their next game.
The biggest boost to the Devils’ repertoire so far this season has been the emergence of a suddenly lethal passing game.
Statesboro has never been unwilling to put the ball in the air, but has usually used its passing game to keep opponents from cheating up too much in defense of the SHS rushing attack. This season, Statesboro has made it a point to show the willingness to air it out on any down and in any situation.
Senior quarterback Colin Chance has been up to the task, and then some. Chance has connected on 19 of his 27 attempts with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Devils’ potent passing was at its best late in the first half as Statesboro went over 60 yards in less than a minute to reach the end zone just before halftime.
“That was very positive to see,” Pennington said. “There are going to be times when our two-minute offense is called upon late in a game. It’s important to be able to execute quickly like that.”
Another fast start
With last week’s blowout win, Statesboro made it 10 consecutive years in which it has won at least its first two games of the season.
“I was proud of the way we began the game,” Pennington said. “We need to be strong both emotionally and physically. That’s always a challenge when you play tough teams early in the season.”
For a program that makes a habit out of winning region titles and making deep playoff runs, its easy to see where that the Devils start building up momentum for the postseason beginning from Week 1. In the last ten seasons, Statesboro has an almost absurd record of 44-3 in games played in August and September.
After taking on Class AAAAA Lakeside in its opener and hooking up with ARC in a region crossover tilt last week, Statesboro next takes on Class AAA Tattnall County. Friday’s game will mark the first road trip of the season for the Devils.
This marks the fourth consecutive season that the Devils and Battle Creek Warriors will meet in the regular season.
Despite playing in a lower classification, Tattnall has made each of the previous meetings close. However, the Warriors have struggled offensively so far this season and will be hard-pressed to get things clicking against what has been a stingy SHS defense so far.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.
So far, so good for Statesboro