The Statesboro Blue Devils have had the lead in the fourth quarter in each of their last two games but have been unable to hang on and are now 1-2 as they prepare for their final non region game of the year as they host Liberty County Friday at Womack Field for homecoming.
The Blue Devils raced out to a 20-7 lead last Friday against Huston County but were unable to get anything going on offense in the second half, and while the defense had their moments, a pair of breakdowns in the fourth quarter proved costly including allowing the go-ahead touchdown pass on a fourth and 29 play.
“I told our kids this week we are playing extremely hard, but we aren’t playing extremely smart,” said Kaiser. “We gave up a deep ball on third and 15 on a play that was easy to defend. The same thing happened on the touchdown pass in the fourth. It wasn’t just one guy making the mistake it was two or three.”
“We compared what we did Friday to studying hard for a test that you then fail,” said Kaiser. “Not only do we need to work hard and play hard, but we need to work smarter. That is what we emphasized this week with our kids.”
The good news for the Blue Devils is they showed improvement from their last second loss the previous week against Swainsboro particularly on offense where quarterback Kam Mikell rushed for 183 yards and a touchdown and threw for 110 yards and a pair of scores.
“We really improved throwing the ball,” said Kaiser. “Kam is still a real threat to run the ball. We need our running backs to run a little harder and our offensive line needs to put it all together. We get two or three doing well and two or three of them not doing what they are supposed to do. We have to put all that together for one game. We had a key drop on a pass that should have gone for a touchdown. We have to play through bad breaks, but I have faith we can do that.”
This week could be just what the doctor ordered as the Blue Devils host the 0-1 Liberty County Panthers. The Panthers have talent but have only played one game this year after having to shut things down for a few weeks due to health concerns.
The Blue Devils knocked off Liberty County last season 33-13 in Hinesville in one of their most impressive offensive outputs of the season. The Tigers lost to Baldwin County 42-6 last week and are led offensively by senior running back Marquez Johnson and sophomore quarterback Carlos Singletary.
“They remind me a lot of Swainsboro in the fact they are big on the lines of scrimmage and extremely fast,” said Kaiser. “They always have a lot of talent over there in Hinesville and this year isn’t any different. We know they have athletes, and they can run so we have to be aware of these things and prepare for it.”
One other thing that hovers over this game is the fact that Friday is also homecoming at Statesboro High which brings a whole other kind of worries.
“For some reason this is place is crazy when it comes to the mess surrounding homecoming as far as what some of these kids do,” said Kaiser. “We have told our kids if you choose to participate in that extra-curricular stuff there will be consequences if you are in the wrong. We hope they are mature enough not to participate in it and can focus on the task at hand.”
Statesboro and Liberty County are scheduled to play Friday at 7:30 at Womack Field.