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Metter's running game too much for South Effingham
Liam Rickman
South Effingham's Liam Rickman boots a field goal out of the hold of Alex Cela on Friday against Metter. - photo by Photo by Birk Herrath

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

GUYTON -- South Effingham’s first-year defensive coordinator Donald Chumley has a special appreciation for the grind-it-out football approach.

“I used to play that style myself, I know how it works,” said Chumley, possibly thinking back to his head coaching days at Savannah Christian.

Playing that style as an offense and trying to stop it as a defense, however, are two different things.

Chumley’s defense gave great effort in the season opener Friday night, but couldn’t slow down Metter enough during a 26-3 loss at The Corral.

Next up for SEHS will be a Friday night calling from another perennial ground-and-pound team, Appling County.

It will be the return of coach Rick Tomberlin to the area. Tomberlin, who won three state championships with Washington County (1994, 1996, 1997), also coached three years at Effingham County (2010-2012).

No doubt, Tomberlin and the Pirates will at least consider following a template created by Metter when game-planning the Mustangs. The Tigers had touchdown drives of 17 and 12 plays covering 95 and 80 yards in the first half while limiting SEHS to 11 plays.

Metter built a 20-3 lead with two backbreaking touchdowns in the final 16 seconds of the first half.

Tigers quarterback Taj Hobbs scored on short runs of 2 and 1 yards and threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Antwan Coney. Aaron Collins had a 1-yard TD run in the third quarter.

SEHS’ lone score came on Liam Rickman’s 43-yard field goal in the second quarter. The Mustangs, who averaged almost 36 points a game last season, had just three first downs and 76 yards Friday night. 

“Offensively, we just couldn’t get it going and defensively, we couldn’t get off the field,” said SEHS coach Nathan Clark, conceding the unfriendly pairing.

On the plus side, the SEHS defense played better in the second half and surrendered just 34 rushing yards. The unit had two stops in the red zone, including one at the 6.

Collins, Metter’s leading rusher, was held to 71 yards on 17 carries.

Defensive back Brayden Bell’s interception on the third play of the game gave SEHS some early momentum.

But Metter, a team that won 11 games last season and advanced three rounds in the state playoffs, turned things around by recovering a fumble at the 5, then marching 95 yards the other way.

“I thought we played well upfront, but you have to give (Metter) credit,” Chumley said. “They picked up first downs on third-and-long, fourth-and-long to keep drives going.

“We have a lot to work on but I was pleased with our toughness. We kept fighting. With everything this team has been through, we’re going to be fine.”

An outbreak of COVID-19 shut down the Mustangs football program for almost two weeks in late August and has the team playing catch up.

The lack of practice time showed. A special teams mix up -- failing field a pooch kickoff -- gave the Tigers a free first-half possession which was cashed in for a touchdown (and two-point conversion) when a throwback pass after misdirection worked to perfection as time ran out in the first half.

SEHS’ mistakes were magnified because the team could generate little offense. Even the lone scoring drive came with the disappointment of a couple of dropped passes.

Five second-half possessions failed to net any first downs.

Cameron Edwards led the Mustangs with 34 yards on 12 carries. Quarterback Alex Cela completed three of nine passes for 20 yards.

Clark remained positive.

“I told the team I’ve been part of some teams that lost their first game and a couple of them took old-fashioned whippings and they came back to be pretty good,” he said.