The Statesboro Blue Devil football team is still far from from their days of battling for a state championship, but the Blue Devils have definitely made steps forward in the two years under head coach Jeff Kaiser.
Last year the Blue Devils earned the No. 3 seed out of their region, and advanced to the state playoffs for the first time in over five years. The Blue Devils gave No. 2 seeded Griffin quite a scare, before falling in the final minutes 19-13.
Last week the Blue Devils began their third year of spring football practice under Kaiser, and after debating whether or not to have spring practices, Kaiser is excited about what he has seen so far.
“We have learned some things over the past two seasons here,” Kaiser said. “You can either have two scrimmage games in the fall, or have a spring practice with a game. We decided it was best to have spring practice. It’s important to get them back to thinking about football and being with their teammates, but we are doing things a little different this time around.”
“We are spending less time on the field, as we are struggling in the depth department,” Kaiser said. “Defensively we feel pretty good about the 11 starters we have, but we have to find people behind them. Offensively we are doing some good things, but we have to find replacements for three key offensive linemen. The good thing is just this week we have seen great improvement on that front.”
The numbers look pretty good for the Blue Devils as over 120 players are participating, but Kaiser says those numbers have dropped a bit over the past week, which may not be a bad thing in the long run.
“We are excited about those who are sticking through this spring, but we are finding out that for some, football may not be for them,” Kaiser said. “We have lost a few kids to attrition. I am excited that we have about 50 incoming freshman, but we have lost a few of our rising sophomores, and that class is becoming a little thin.”
Entering year three as the Blue Devils head coach Kaiser has seen plenty of changes.
“The kids seem to understand better what is expected of them,” Kaiser said. “There seems to be some excitement around the program. Our kids have been working hard, and making strides in the weight room.”
“Making it to the state playoffs last year was huge,” Kaiser said. “In our first year we had a great group of kids, but toward the end of the season we were a little beat down, and losing does that to you. A year later we are playing Griffin in the state playoffs in a nail biter, and those kids were devastated when it was over, because they believed they should have won that game.”
One of the positives for the Blue Devils this season is their coaching staff remains in tact, and that stability can be a huge key for success.
“We return our entire coaching staff, which is huge,” Kaiser said. “All of our returning starters from last year are here and working hard, we are just looking for a few surprises to step up and provide that depth.”
The Blue Devils wrap up their spring practice next Tuesday and cap things off with a spring game Wednesday night as they host Windsor Forest. The game is slated to get underway at 7:00 and admission is $7.