It’s the sound of whistles, cleats on turf, pads hitting pads and snap counts.
That’s right. Football teams all over Bulloch County are finally hitting practice fields from Portal to Brooklet and everywhere in between for a month of preparation before it finally happens – kickoff.
There’s a long way to go between now and then, and there’s a ton of questions to answer before the opening gun.
First, let’s take a look at Womack Field and our very own Statesboro Blue Devils.
They quietly won game after game a year ago, racking up win after win until the final week of the season when a down-to-the-whistle, 30-29 loss to Brunswick saw them heading into the playoffs at 9-1.
It wasn’t easy, but the ice-in-the-veins leadership of senior quarterback Luke Connell and clutch foot of Blue-Devil-turned-GSU kicker Graden Bozeman saw the Devils do enough to get the job done before finally falling to Rome in the quarterfinals.
Seeing what SHS has done under coach Steve Pennington up to this point, there’s not much of a question of whether or not the Devils will be fighting for the top of Region 2-AAAA this year. With the loss of all that talent, the question is more like who will be the guys to step up and keep them there?
Then there’s Portal.
The two-headed quarterback system of Steven Cox and Nick Boggs has been replaced by sophomores Corey Walker and Hunter Oglesby. That will be a key if PHS is going to turn it around.
Rejuvenated by defensive coordinator Cherard Freeman, the Portal defense was able to keep the team in almost every game a year ago. It’s up to a young group of players and offensive coordinator Grayson Huskins to make sure the Panthers play the fourth quarter like they played the first three this time around.
If they can do that, they’ll find themselves in a position to make a push into the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
The Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets saw Tharon Davis become the centerpiece of the offense over the last couple of years. With him out of the picture, it will be the ‘dawning of the Age of DeArious’ – at running back anyway.
DeArious “Dee” Odum took the reigns at the quarterback position at SEB due to an injury to projected starter Tucker Bettis a year ago, but he’ll be running the football in 2009. Will the Jackets finally be able to balance the offensive attack and make some noise in Region 3-AA, arguably the toughest region to make the playoffs in the state?
Speaking of playoffs, Bulloch Academy is a team that’s been there and done that. A lot.
Aside from the loss of fullback David Poole, the Gators will look to plug up the holes and pick up right where they left off in 2008.
How will Metter react to its first return to the playoffs since the Zach Stanford days? Can Claxton keep finding a way into the postseason? What will Emanuel County do with all the big names on offense and defense playing Division I ball this year?
I don’t know and neither do you, but that’s why they play the game. And fortunately for all of us, they’ll start playing it soon.
Those feasible Eagles
So Georgia Southern released the results of the feasibility study.
Now that that’s out of the way, we can all stop worrying so much about the future of the Eagles, and start focusing on the present.
Oh yeah, they’ve got a season starting next month.
The Eagles have as many question marks surrounding themselves as anybody else but, for some reason, it seems a little different this time around.
Gone are the quarterback controversies of the past few years. Gone are the questions about what the offense is going to look like. Gone is the talk of 2006, a year that, depending on who you ask, may or may not have happened in the first place.
Now, all GSU has to worry about is taking the field and playing football.
The Eagles have 11 games on the slate this season. If they win enough of them, they’ll make the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
Now that’s a good question.Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.