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SHS receivers do it under the radar
Statesboro receiver Torrance Whitaker snags a pass and runs for a touchdown against Screven County earlier this season. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/file

    Being a wide receiver in Statesboro’s offensive system isn’t exactly the most glamourous of jobs.
    While most programs continue to move toward the trend of spread options and passing attacks, getting their wideouts in space to create big plays, the Blue Devils continue to pound opponents the old fashioned way. That means the guys on the outside have just a big of job to do as the rest of their offensive teammates.
    “With this offense, if we can ever break away from the inside, it’s our job to have that outside taken care of,” said receivers coach Bradley Ward. “If we ever get into space, we don’t want one man keeping us from the end zone. That’s essentially what a wide outs job is in this offense.”
    The Blue Devils often break off big runs on sweeps and counter plays. Those plays rely on the outside blocking of guys like Torrance Whitaker and Diego Prince, along with tight end Sherrod Natson.
    “You gotta know how to block,” said Prince, the team’s leading receiver. “You gotta know how to break down and run good routes, with quickness.”
    Prince has caught eight balls for 152 yards, but has yet to find the end zone. His teammates labeled him as, “goofy”.
    “Yeah, I crack jokes every now and then,” said the senior. “I got to keep up the spirits. Whenever anyone does bad, or something, I always got to keep them up.”
    At 6-foot-4, Ward said Prince is probably the leader of the receiving corps.
    “He does a good job — he’s our go-to guy,” he said. “If we’re just going to put one of them out there, he’s going to be the one that’s going to go on the field.”
    Natson is the anchor of the SHS tight end position and has been a key member of the Blue Devils for the past four seasons. He’s not complaining about the lack of passing plays called in the Statesboro huddle.
    “Since we’re a running team we don’t get the ball as much,” said Natson, a 6-foot-3 senior. “But when we do throw it we try to make the best of it. (Defenses) don’t expect you to get the ball, so when you do, it might be the last touchdown and be all down to you.”
    Natson has caught just two passes this season, but has totaled 96 yards and scored once.
    “Nat has good hands and good speed, but we don’t get to use him too much,” said Ward. “We like to sneak him out there and get him a pass or two when we can.”
    Both Natson and Prince are flanked by Whitaker, a senior who stands a good half-foot shorter than the other two. That fact isn’t forgotten by Natson and Prince, who often give him a hard time.
    “Sometimes it gets on my nerves,” he said.
    But like his Devil teammates, Whitaker has no problems with Statesboro’s lack of passing plays.
    “I would rather be in a throwing offense,” said Whitaker. “But I like our offense because they don’t expect you to get the ball and once you get the ball you have to make a play. It’s really crunch time when you get the ball.”
    Whitaker, the quiet one of the bunch, has caught two balls for 44 yards and a TD this season. He was quick to put his finger on the importance of perimeter blocking.
    “We run the ball, like 90 percent of the time,” said Whitaker. “And if you don’t make your block, and the corner makes the tackle, you’re going to get screamed at.”
    Getting screamed at? Yep, and all three said that’s their biggest motivation between the lines — to keep the coaches out of their face.    
    “Hey — whatever it takes to get the job done,” Ward laughed.
    Statesboro travels to Evans Friday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Directions to Evans
    Statesboro will face undefeated Evans on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Here are directions to Blanchard Stadium. Take Highway 25 to Highway 520 in Augusta to I-20 West. Exit on Belair and turn left onto Cox Rd. Evans High School will be on the left.
    Chad Bishop can be reached at (912) 489-9408.