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Effingham set to face rival Statesboro Friday night in Springfield
ECHS Football file photo

By Josh Aubrey

Special for the Effingham Herald


The Statesboro Blue Devils are in the same spot they were at this time last year as they sit 1-1 and prepare for a Friday night showdown at Effingham County.

The Blue Devils will get their first taste of facing a spread offense this Friday as they head to Effingham to take on the Rebels. Last year Effingham came to Statesboro and handed the Blue Devils a 32-10 loss. The Rebels are currently 0-2 with losses to Richmond Hill (34-7) and Burke County (10-6).  

“Coach John Ford has them playing really hard,” Statesboro Head Coach Matt Dobson said. “You turn on the tape and you see some similarities between them and us. They are playing really well on defense and then on offense they are trying to get the pieces in place with a few talented skill position guys.” 

Leading the way once again for the Rebels is quarterback Nate Hayes who is the son of former Statesboro basketball assistant coach Nate Hayes who helped the Blue Devils to a state title in 1991. The younger Hayes passed for over 1,600 yards last season with 14 touchdowns, and rushed for over 400 and five scores. In addition, the Rebels also return leading rusher Jayden Evans who ran for over 1,100 yards last season. 

“Hayes is an elite player and can change the game at any point with his arm or his legs,” Dobson said. “They have a couple really talented skill position guys including Evans. Again, they are very similar to us as they are playing solid defense and trying to work things out on offense and I am confident it will be a great matchup.” 

For the Statesboro football team, the biggest difference from the start of the 2022 season to now, has been the point total, as Statesboro had scored almost 100 points through the first two games last year, and currently only have two touchdowns. 

While the Blue Devils may be 1-1 the 21-0 loss to Glynn Academy was a little worse than the 43-42 defeat last season and the 12-7 win over Southeast Bulloch was a far cry from the 56 points they scored against SEB a year ago. Head coach Dobson knew it may take a while for the newly implemented spread attack to take off but has liked the effort he has seen from the team. 

“We know we still have a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be on offense,” Dobson said. “I think we took a step in the right direction Saturday with a couple of touchdowns and we did not turn the ball over after having five turnovers last week against Glynn. I think the offensive line is playing with much more physicality. The guys are bought in and playing hard and I am confident we will continue to progress.” 

Statesboro and Effingham are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start Sept. 1 in Springfield.