One thing Southeast Bulloch head football coach Barrett Davis has learned as he enters his third season as the Yellow Jackets head coach is to expect the unexpected. Last year the Jackets had two games that ended up being forfeited to them, and were then told they missed out on the state playoffs. The Beach Bulldogs then had to forfeit all their games, which gave the Jackets a last minute reprieve, and their fifth straight trip to the state playoffs.
This year has been a crazy year for most teams, as they have had to deal with issues surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. It would be safe to say that not many have had to deal with what the Jackets have. All their Savannah opponents decided to cancel all their games outside of their district leaving the Jackets having to fill the holes of losing five region games.
The only other team in the region that plays outside of the Savannah area is Liberty County, who suspended all fall sports on two different occasions, which means the Jackets could conceivably win the region without playing a game.
“It’s been a pretty hectic month or so,” said Davis. “It’s been a challenge to fill in the holes from all the Savannah schools leaving, but I’m pretty happy with who we have gotten to replace them. We had to leave the Liberty game in case they decide to resume playing, but we found four replacements with Lakeside, Evans, Washington Wilkes and Bryan County.”
“Evans, Lakeside and Grovetown make three 6-A opponents on our schedule,” said Davis. “Playing three 6-A opponents will be a real challenge, but I feel like it will get us ready for the playoffs.”
The Jacket players are used to battling adversity, and are once again trying to roll with the punches.
“It was crazy last season, and even crazier this year so far,” said Jacket RB/DB Chris Rawls. “We are just so glad we were able to find some teams to fill out our schedule and give us a chance to do what we love to do.”
“We know we can’t take anything for granted,” said Jackets WR/DB Rand Morgan. “We were grateful to make the playoffs last year, and we are grateful for getting a chance to play now. I’m also a baseball player, and we had our season taken away last year, so we know we aren’t promised anything. We are taking things day by day and are grateful for what we have.”
Even if Liberty comes back the Jackets are at least guaranteed of the No. 2 seed in the state playoffs, and a home playoff game. The good news for Southeast Bulloch is they can be patient in waiting for some of their younger players to get up to speed.
“We feel really good about some of our experienced guys up front, and we are also pretty deep with skill position talent,” Davis said. “We have about seven guys we feel we can plug in anywhere from running back to defensive back to linebacker. Many guys will be playing on both sides of the ball, but we have a little time to figure those things out.”
“Up front Trace Shuman, Waylon Knight, and J.R. Raub are guys we are really counting on,” said Davis. “As far as the skill position goes we are looking for big things from Chris Rawls, Adrian Taylor and Daruis Lovett as well as Tyler Griffin. Those guys have really carried the load.”
On the offensive side of the ball the Jackets are counting on a big season from junior quarterback Khristian Clark. Clark split time at quarterback last year with Peyton Carr, and brings a dual threat Davis is excited about.
“Khristian gives us the ability to put in a few new wrinkles on offense,” said Davis. “He can throw the ball, and run the ball well. We feel like we have some really good receivers and running backs that will be able to keep defenses honest a lot more this season.”
Defensively the Jackets will continue to base out of their three man front, but they are also going to add a little more four man fronts with the personnel they have this season. They have also gone from a cover three to a cover two in passing situations.
“We have some athleticism out there that allows us to really do some things differently,” said Davis. “It is very exciting to be able to implement new things and we are anxious to get out on the field and see how the kids respond.”
The Jackets open the 2020 season at home Sept. 4th against Screven County at 7:30 p.m.