By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
GUYTON – Football games that won’t count in the standings Friday night are still valued by South Effingham coach Nathan Clark and Effingham County coach John Ford.
The Mustangs will be in Brooklet for a scrimmage with Southeast Bulloch while the Rebels travel to Sylvania to play Screven County.
SEHS opens the season for real Aug. 19 at Vidalia. ECHS is at Richmond Hill on the same night.
“I’m just ready to see our guys compete against another team,” Clark said. “I want to see how far they’ve come along. I want to see their physicality and toughness.”
Ford wants to see effort.
“This is the first time they’re facing live bullets so we want to see them go as hard as they can, snap to whistle,” Ford said. “You can fix mistakes, but if you have to coach effort, that’s problematic.”
South (2-8 a year ago) has several questions to answer. A quarterback battle between Kaden DeGenero and Aubrey Heath spilled into the preseason. DeGenero throws a little better, but Heath is more athletic, Clark said.
“Obviously, we’d like for one to separate from the other but so far they haven’t,” Clark said. “They’ll both get opportunities and we’ll see who moves the ball and controls the offense better. Both are working hard and both are trying to do the right things. We may have the quarterback position solidified by Week One or we may not. We just need to see where we are.”
The Mustangs also lost a big chunk of offense when 1,000-yard rusher Cameron Edwards, the region’s offensive player of the year and leading wide receiver Joell Laldee graduated. Top tackler linebacker Louis Hicks and standout kicker Liam Rickman also graduated.
ECHS (6-4 a year ago) will have a lot to look at after the graduation of productive quarterback Matthew Ford and top linebackers Tucker Wilson and Tyler Wells.
Junior Nate Hayes could be the heir apparent at quarterback, throwing to an elite group of wide receivers led by the return of Keion Wallace, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury.
“We’re all in need of a dry run this time of the season,” Ford said. “Our first game is an away game so to have an away game as a scrimmage is beneficial. I’m looking for our kids to get lined up right, communicate the play and play incredibly hard and play together.”