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Statesboro finally ready to kick off season
SHS helmet

2020 has been a crazy year, but it’s hit particularly hard at Statesboro High School. The Blue Devil basketball team lost senior O.J. Reese In July, and then head basketball coach Lee Hill passed away in August. 

The football team had their originally scheduled Erk Russell Classic game with Wayne County cancelled, but plans were then changed to hold their game with Wayne County for Friday September 4th. The Blue Devils then got the news that not only was that game being cancelled, but head coach Jeff Kaiser tested positive for COVID-19.

“Our kids have been through a lot, but they have shown great maturity handling all this,” said Statesboro coach David NeSmith. “They were disappointed when they found out we couldn’t play the Wayne County game. They were very concerned when they found out that Coach Kaiser was in the hospital, but he seems to be improving and so we are now grateful to be preparing for a football game Friday night.”

The Blue Devil players are trying their best to just focus on the game, but they admit it is difficult knowing Coach Kaiser is sick, and they will be without a few of their teammates Friday night,

“It’s definitely something that is hard to block out, not having everyone out there will be hard to miss Friday,” said senior running back Aundrell Grace. “Our coaches have told us to control what we can control, and right now we are trying our best to just prepare for Swaisboro.”

We have faced a lot of adversity all the way up to and including this week,” said senior receiver Will Yawn. “As seniors it has been hard not to think that the football season could be cancelled, because a lot of us had that happen in baseball in the spring. This week has helped push a lot of that out of our minds though as we are ready to play Swainsboro Friday.”

The Blue Devils have had to wait longer than any other Statesboro football team has had to wait to start a season. With that comes an additional amount of preseason practice that the coaching staff has had to monitor.

“We had to back off just a little with the amount of contact,” said NeSmith. When you are constantly banging on your teammates it gets monotonous, and they are definitely ready to hit someone in a different color jersey. As coaches we are all so excited about them getting their chance to play Friday night.” 

As for the game itself, the Swainsboro Tigers will enter Friday’s contest with two games already under their belt. The Tigers are 1-1 and showed a lot of improvement from their season opening 28-0 loss to Metter to their 20-14 win at Washington County.

“They have some great talent on that team, and seem to have straightened some things out,” said NeSmith. “They have a lot of talent especially at their skill positions. They are a little young up front, and hopefully we can take advantage of that. Defensively they lost six starters from last year so we hope we can catch them before those replacements are able to get a lot of reps in those new positions. 

Last season Swainsboro went 8-4 and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs. They are led by senior running back Robert Allen who rushed for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. 

The Tigers also feature twin receivers Cedric and Fredrick Seabrough who are both 6-4. The twins have both committed to N.C. State and combined for over 1,5000 yards receiving and 21 touchdowns last year.

“Swainsboro has a rich tradition and they know how to win,” said NeSmith. The twins are the real deal and they have lined up at tight end and receiver already this year. Allen is a solid running back, and we are going to have to be able to slow their offense down to have success Friday.”

Statesboro will be at Swainsboro Friday and the game is scheduled to get underway at 7:30.