BROOKLET – Coming in to Friday night’s game against Groves, Southeast Bulloch Head Coach Jared Zito had a message for his team in their regular season finale against Groves.
“We were an 8-1 football team and, in my opinion, the best team in the region and my expectation was to come out and act like it and finish what we started.”
The Yellow Jackets certainly did that, scoring three touchdowns before Groves even had a play on offense and cruising to a 62-12 victory to cap off SEB’s best season since the 2018 team also went 9-1.
Southeast Bulloch (9-1, 5-1) had already secured second place in the region and a home playoff game regardless of the outcome, but the Yellow Jackets were fired up from the start to come out and extinguish any thought of an upset by Groves (0-10, 0-6).
Tyler Griffin started opened the scoring on a 5-yard touchdown on a drive that saw him pick up 59 of the 61 total yards of the drive. He would finish with 109 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries.
The Yellow Jackets recovered the ensuing pooch kickoff and Trandon McBride scored the first of his two touchdowns, this one a 10-yard scamper.
After a surprise onside kick by the Yellow Jackets which SEB recovered, Kyon Taylor took a handoff and found the endzone on a 26-yard run for the first of his two tochdowns. Andrew Slone’s third PAT of the night made it 21-0 before the Yellow Jacket defense had stepped on the field.
The Yellow Jacket defense was able to recover a fumbled punt attempt to set up McBride’s second score of the night just two plays later, this one from 2 yards out.
Still in the first quarter, the SEB defense was able to get a score of their own when Jontavious Scott picked off an errant pass and returned it 55 yards for the touchdown. Griffin capped off the first quarter scoring with a 50-yard touchdown run that saw him zig zag through the defense to put the Yellow Jackets up 41-0 after the first twelve minutes.
Taylor and Joe Drew added second quarter touchdowns, with Cole Snyder added the extra points to put SEB up 55-0 at halftime.
“It was a real team win,” Zito said. “I’m always proud of the lines of scrimmage. I think you still win the game on the line of scrimmage, especially when you run the football and stop the run.
With the Yellow Jackets having such an insurmountable lead, a running clock was instituted late in the second quarter and all through the second half. Groves was able to find the end zone twice in the second half as SEB got some of their younger players in the game to get some experience.
Drew added his second score of the night on a 75-yard kickoff return, much to the delight of his teammates on the sideline.
The Yellow Jackets will now try to win their first playoff game since 1973 when Fred Shaver led SEB to their second consecutive state title.
“It’s been a great year one for us and I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Zito said. “And now the goal is to win that first playoff game since 1973.”
The Yellow Jackets will host Long County (5-5), the third seed from Region 1-AAA, Friday night at Fred Shaver field in Brooklet.
Former SEB coach Fred Shaver still attends every game and watches is in the corner of the field. Following each game, the players go over to Shaver to show their appreciation for the foundation he set for the program.
“It’s not just about the playoffs or state championships, but it’s doing everything with a certain type of standard and a certain culture,” Zito said. “And hopefully all those things together will lead us to a win that first playoff game for him and for this community and for this school.”
Zito said he hopes the students, teachers and community will rally behind the Yellow Jackets next week to support the team.
“I want it to be a true home field advantage,” he said. “I want them to be here for that opportunity to be able to win that football game and I want everyone to celebrate with our team. We have lot of people that have been around here for a long time and that would be a special moment for them.”