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Running on all cylinders
111910 SHS FOOTBALL 03 web
Statesboro's Quan Daniels (21) waltzes into the end zone for a second quarter touchdown during the Blue Devils' playoff win over Griffin November 19, 2010. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

In Statesboro High’s vaunted wishbone running offense, opponents are used to seeing a new stable of capable backs come through each season.

The only thing scarier than that scenario will play itself out this year as Michael Summers and Quan Daniels headline as returning starters to a backfield that could be among the most talented in the state.

Last season, the pair of Blue Devils burst onto the scene together in their first year with SHS.

Summers – who was a junior transfer from Benedictine – led the team in rushing yards through the opening weeks, but then found himself under center replacing an injured Reid Pennington. Summers pulled out a pair of wins as quarterback, but was then hampered by leg injuries of his own throughout the tail end of the regular season and wasn’t able to be the same workhorse down the stretch.

Now entering his senior season, Summers is 100 percent and ready to show what he can do when fully healthy.

"Obviously, (being healthy) is a main goal," said Summers at practice Wednesday afternoon. "I’m expecting big things from myself and from this team. I worked hard in the weight room to get up to 200 pounds. I think that should help me out taking on defenders this season."

Hitting the hole will be one job for Summers, but he will also see some time as a receiver when the Blue Devils take to the air.

"I think that I have the skills to be a good receiver," said Summers. "When you put Tavist (Wilson) on one side of the line and me on the other, I think we can cause some problems."

As if that isn’t enough for Statesboro’s opponents to keep on their minds, there is still Daniels to worry about.

Entering the 2010 season, Daniels was a sophomore and had a lot of names looking down on him from the top of the depth chart. But as the season wore on and injuries cropped up, Daniels started to see more time on the field.

Already aware of his blazing speed from an impressive 2010 track season, Blue Devil coaches were equally astounded by how naturally Daniels took to carrying the football when he started to get touches midway through the season.

"I just tried to do my best every time I got the ball," said Daniels. "I knew that there was a lot of talent on the field and I wanted to show that I belonged."

Far from just fitting in, Daniels became Statesboro’s go-to guy in the playoffs and he responded, notching 200-yard games in three of the Devils’ four postseason contests.

Now an established member of the backfield, Daniels enters 2011 with a new outlook.

"Honestly, I was a little selfish last year," said Daniels. "I was always thinking about the next time I would get the ball. Now, I’m more focused on blocking for my teammates. We all know what we can do with the ball, so we take a lot more pride in what we do without it."

Along with Daniels’ more relaxed state of mind, Summers also has a reason to focus solely on team success this season.

On Father’s Day, Summers verbally committed to play for Georgia Tech in 2012.

"I went to a camp this summer and they were interested in me," said Summers. "I like the offense, the style of play and the academics at Tech. I think it will be a great fit and knowing what I’m doing next year takes a lot off my mind."

Now all that’s left is the business at hand on Friday nights.

"We know how close we came last year," said Daniels. "This year, it’s all about getting that ring."

 

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