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Effingham County set for title game rematch against Brunswick
Rebels helmet
John Ford was selected from a field of approximately 75-80 candidates.

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Hearld

Beating Lakeside-Evans didn’t change their position in the Region 2-AAAAAA standings, but the Effingham County Rebels played with a sense of purpose Friday night.

“I think the defense wanted to show whatever happened in the Evans game wasn’t who we are,” said ECHS coach John Ford about the spirited effort that limited the Panthers to 60 offensive yards and only a late touchdown during a 27-7 win. “They did a great job being ready to play.”

The Rebels (7-2, 5-0) extended their winning streak to seven games and continued their collision course with Brunswick (9-0, 5-0) for the region championship Friday night at Glynn County Stadium.

It’s a rematch of last year’s region title game. The Pirates  entered the contest undefeated but had to hold on for dear life for their 21-18 victory in Springfield.

This season, Brunswick, ranked ninth in Class AAAAAA by ScoreAtlanta, might be better, using an abundance of speed to average 37 points a game while giving up less than 12 a game.

The Pirates have not lost to Effingham County at home since 1995 (a span of seven games).

“Brunswick is a great team. They’re big, fast and strong and well-coached. I consider coach (Garrett) Grady a friend. They don’t have a whole lot of weak points,” Ford said.

The Rebels showed a few areas of concern in an Oct. 14 contest against Evans. Despite winning 35-22, ECHS surrendered 356 offensive yards and gave up five plays of 30 or more yards.

But a week off helped the defense regroup. Linebacker Luke Roberts finished with 10 tackles and Cooper Nease had three tackles for losses. And ECHS’ offense continued to roll. Junior quarterback Nate Hayes completed 17-of-25 passes for 230 yards with touchdown passes to Keion Wallace, Zach Harbin and Timmy Brown.

Brown had four catches for 139 yards.

Junior running back Jayden Evans rushed nine times for 139 yards and a score. It was his third straight 100-yard night.

The Rebels finished with 481 yards — 251 on the ground and 230 through the air.

Since losing its first two games of the season, ECHS has won seven straight games, tying the fifth longest winning streak in school history and the longest streak since winning eight in a row in 1995 — the last time the Rebels won a region championship.

Ford said playing Brunswick competitively last season should help Friday night.

“I remember going into that game we had a good week of practice and the kids were playing really hard,” Ford said. “I remember thinking if we can make a couple of breaks, we’d have a shot. … We have a lot of guys back who played in that game so they know what to expect.”

Regardless of the outcome Friday, ECHS has secured a home game for the first round of the state tournament on Nov. 11.