The Statesboro Blue Devils have been a work in progress this season. Friday night the Blue Devils got a first hand look at the flip side of that, as the No. 3 ranked Richmond Hill Wildcats looked like a team of seasoned veterans as they shut out the Blue Devils with a 34-0 victory Friday at Richmond Hill.
Playing before a sold out crowd the Wildcats showed why many feel like they are the team to beat in Class-AAAAAA this season. Richmond Hill returned 20 starters from their team that advanced to the state semifinals last season, including all 11 on defense.
The Blue Devils allowed big plays to hurt them in the first half, and failed to stop the Wildcats on several third and long situations throughout the game. On offense Statesboro never got past the Wildcat 30-yard line in the first half, and failed to make any progress in the second half.
“We are running into the same problems we have had,” said Statesboro Coach Jeff Kaiser. “We can’t get off the field on third down, and we can’t stay on the field offensively. I was proud of the way our defense fought. We didn’t play the pass too well, and that’s something we need to work on. We did a pretty good job against the run. We are discombobulated right now on offense and we need to make some changes to get better.”
Friday night the Wildcats showed off on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Tyler Coleman looked poised from the start as he hit Jordan Clark on a 42-yard bomb that he juggled and caught inside the Statesboro 10. A few plays later, working out of the Wildcat formation Kenyan Hunter took the snap and went 3-yards for the touchdown as the Wildcats grabbed a 7-0 lead.
The Blue Devil offense put together a pretty good drive on their opening possession. Statesboro moved downfield with a mix of pass and run getting to the Wildcat 34 and opting to go for it on 4th and 4-yards to go. Richmond Hill defensive end Nathan Vickers busted through the line and dropped Statesboro quarterback Ames Rackleff for a 6-yard loss and Richmond Hill took over.
On their first play from scrimmage Coleman chucked another pass deep to Clark, who hauled it in for a 54-yard reception to the Statesboro 16-yard line. Coleman capped the drive off two plays later with a 15-yard jump-pass for a touchdown to Ryan Steele and a 14-0 Wildcat lead.
That score carried into the second quarter, when the Wildcats added a 32-yard field goal by Britton Williams for a 17-0 lead with 5:28 to go in the half. Statesboro then got into Wildcat territory again as Rackleff busted free for a 51yard run to the Wildcat 32-yard line. On the very next play Rackleff was intercepted by a leaping Hunter at the 16-yard line.
The Wildcats turned that turnover into points as well. Richmond Hill converted on a pair of third and long plays, and then had to settle for another 32-yard field goal by Williams for a 20-0 halftime lead.
The teams played a scoreless third quarter, and then the Wildcats added a pair of touchdowns in the fourth. Hunter scored again out of the Wildcat formation from the 3-yard line, and capped the scoring as 260 pound defensive end Shaquan Brooks rumbled in from 7-yards out for the final of 34-0.
The loss drops the Blue Devils to 1-4 on the season while the Wildcats improve to 5-1. Up next Statesboro will host Brunswick next Friday at Womack Filed.
“We start the second half of our season next week,” said Kaiser. “We will see who comes out with a good attitude and ready to work, and the ones that don’t will get left behind. We want the kids here that want to be here, and I am confident that all our kids will be here and work hard.”