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Pirates sink short-handed Mustangs
Cameron Edwards
Nick MIlbrandt (90) and Cameron Edwards (1) signal a touchdown after Edwards scored in the first period Friday night. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

GUYTON — The South Effingham Mustangs had the right idea Friday night against Brunswick — don’t let the Pirates touch the football.

The Mustangs, who installed a run-oriented, single-wing offense leading up to the game, possessed the ball the entire first quarter, but as soon as Brunswick had a chance, problems mounted.

The Pirates averaged nearly eight yards a play and scored on six of their seven possessions en route to a 38-6 victory at The Corral.

SEHS dropped to 0-5, 0-2 in Region 2-6A play. The Mustangs will return to action Friday night for homecoming against Glynn Academy.

“We’re down quarterbacks. (Alex) Cela was our starter and we’ve had a situation with the backups and we chose to go with the single wing,” SEHS coach Nathan Clark said about the decision to install an offense rarely seen these days.

The Mustangs were playing shorthanded after the loss of Cela to a broken collar bone a week earlier against Effingham County. The team’s backup quarterback was suspended and younger quarterbacks in the program weren’t ready to step up.

Enter the single wing — an offense invented by Glenn “Pop” Warner in 1907, according to Wikipedia. It was a dominant alignment before World War II.

Clark said he learned about the single wing while an assistant at Lee County High School when the team was without a true backup quarterback. Clark said Lee County used the offense as a change of pace.

Against Brunswick, Clark moved defensive back Brayden Bell to quarterback. After receiving the kickoff, SEHS’ first drive went 89 yards on 16 plays as the unbalanced offensive line (more linemen to the right or left of center) pushed around the Pirates’ three-man defensive front. The Mustangs converted three third-down plays, and Cameron Edwards scored from the 3 on the first play of the second quarter.

SEHS had a chance to get the ball right back after recovering an ensuing onside kick, but an official ruled a Mustang touched the ball before it had traveled 10 yards.

Brunswick (4-2, 2-0 Region 2-6A) needed just 95 seconds to take the lead on a 29-yard TD pass from Kj Lee to Tyrease Jones and Kyle Rehberg’s extra-point kick.

The Pirates added 10 more points in the quarter and extended their lead to 17-6 at halftime.

Lee and Jones hooked up for a back-breaking 91-yard TD pass on a third down-and-21 play to begin the second half and the advantage ballooned to 24-6, and the Pirates were sailing.

“We tried to keep our defense off the field because (Brunswick’s) offense is so great,” Edwards said. “Obviously, it worked in the first quarter. We kept running hard and our offensive line kept pushing.”

SEHS had a season-high 225 total yards, all on the ground. The Mustangs attempted only two passes.

Edwards finished with 134 yards on 30 carries and a touchdown. Larry Scott had 89 yards on 11 carries.

“We did what we thought could give us a chance to win under the circumstances,” Clark said. “I thought Cameron ran the ball with power and Larry ran well too. Hopefully, that builds some confidence in them and builds some confidence in the line and we continue to make some progress.”

Clark said another week of practice should help the offense’s execution of the single wing.

“We’ll make some adjustments and be able to add some wrinkles to it,” Clark said. “I thought we fought hard. It was a step in the right direction. We have to keep practicing.”