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Swainsboro visits Devils for homecoming

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7:20 p.m.
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Swainsboro (0-4) at Statesboro (5-0)
7:30 p.m., 102.9 FM
Womack Field

    The Statesboro Blue Devils stormed into Swainsboro last season and ended the three-game winning streak that the Tigers had going.
    Swainsboro hasn’t recovered yet.
    While Statesboro (5-0, No. 5 Class AAAA) went on to make a state playoff appearance, the Tigers tumbled to six consecutive losses to end their 2012 campaign. This season hasn’t gone much better as Swainsboro enters tonight’s game at Womack Field with an 0-4 mark and a new coach, Ken Eldridge, overhauling the system.
    But the Devils are never content to rest on their laurels.
    “Swainsboro is a program with a great football history,” SHS coach Steve Pennington said. “I know it’s only a matter of time before they go back to being successful. We just want them to wait at least another week.
    “I’m sure they remember that we started their losing streak and I’m sure it would be a highlight of their season if they started a winning streak against us.”
    If the Tigers have any ideas of pulling the big upset, they’ll have to solve a Blue Devils squad that was completely dominant in last season’s 32-7 win.
    That big win came with Statesboro running a conservative offense and with injuries to a few of its running backs. This time around, the Devils have an explosive offense with no shortage of playmakers waiting to strike from anywhere on the field.
    The Statesboro defense will be trying to avoid the same type of big plays as Swainsboro brings an entirely different look into tonight’s game.
    Swainsboro operated out of the spread throughout last year’s contest, but has now switched to a veer option look. Not only is this attack a near polar opposite from last season, but it’s something that the Devils haven’t seen since a loss to Thomas County Central in the first round of the 2011 state playoffs.
    Statesboro’s defense has been fast and swarming this season, but assignments and execution will be key if the Devils want to duplicate last year’s impressive performance in which Swainsboro’s only points came off of a Blue Devil turnover.
    “We have some experienced guys, but all of them are seeing this type of offense for the first time,” Pennington said. “It’s going to be a challenge. One wrong decision can open things up for a big play. And it’s hard to recreate in practice. We won’t really know how prepared we are until we see how we perform when the game begins.”
    Tonight will be the final tune-up for Statesboro before sub-region play begins next week. Even if the Devils come away with a win tonight, it’s the final three games of the regular season that will determine where they stand heading into Region 3-AAAA’s play-in games on Nov. 8.

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