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Take two - Blue Devils head back to Augusta

No. 5 Statesboro (1-0) at Richmond Academy (0-1)
7:30 p.m., 102.9 FM

    The Statesboro Blue Devils enjoyed their first trip to Augusta so much that they’re headed right back.
    Statesboro (1-0, No. 5 in Class AAAA poll) took down Lakeside, Evans last week and heads back up north tonight to take on Richmond Academy in a cross-region matchup.
    Lakeside — a Class AAAAA school — may be bigger in population, but the AAAA Musketeers will be quite a large test.
    “There’s no two ways about it,” said SHS coach Steve Pennington. “Richmond Academy has some big boys. They have a tackle that is 6’7”, 315 pounds, a big guard that can pull and move like some of our backs, and a couple of other guys that are way up there in terms of size. That’s not something that we’re all that used to seeing.”
    With a 2012 lineup that is a bit undersized for Statesboro, Richmond Academy is a tough team to emulate in practice.
    One advantage for the Devils is that they will be facing a similar game plan. The Musketeers employ many of the same spread formations as Lakeside and — like the Panthers — won’t hesitate to put the ball in the air.
    Still, the Musketeers know an advantage when they see it and won’t hesitate to run right at the Devils.
    “We know they’ll throw the ball and I certainly hope they’ll throw it,” said Pennington. “But they have also shown that they’ll go under center and use a power running game. It’s been well documented that we have one of our smallest defensive lines this season, so that might be an issue that we have to deal with.”
    On the other side of the ball, the Devils are hoping that nothing needs to change.
    Quan Daniels looked like the All-State running back that he was in 2010 and as Statesboro chalked up 280 yards on the ground.
    This season figures to showcase a more diverse offensive attack from the Devils as quarterback Colin Chance looks like a capable thrower and runner of the ball, opening up the option and passing game. The Devils’ ability to consistently move the chains and chew up clock allowed them to stick to the basics in Week 1, but Chance’s abilities, combined with a handful of receiving threats and the usual stable of running backs will allow them to attack from all angles.
    The playbook might open up a bit more tonight, but preparations for tonight have been much the same for the SHS offense as the Musketeers run a similar defensive scheme as Lakeside.
    “Our offense has seen these alignments and knows how to adjust,” said Pennington. “It’s always nice when you get multiple teams on the schedule that play similar styles, especially when you play them one after another.”
    Statesboro might be without the services of fullback Jim Kopotic (ankle), but will welcome back some defensive players. Inside linebacker J.D. Pope and defensive lineman Brandon Maple will both return to their starting positions while outside linebacker Corey Harden may see some playing time as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
    This season, Richmond Academy joins Statesboro in Region 3-AAAA — the first time since 2007 that the schools have been in the same region — but tonight’s game won’t count toward the final region standings or postseason eligibility.
    Statesboro doesn’t begin its sub-region schedule until Oct. 12.
    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.