RINCON — At the end of Friday’s installment of the Effingham County-South Effingham football series, the scoreboard will tell a story that will never end.
The winner will have lifetime bragging rights and establish a legacy.
Effingham County’s seniors will have the most to crow about if their team comes out on top in Friday’s 7:30 game in Guyton. They can complete their prep careers without ever losing to the Mustangs.
“I think that we will come out with the best energy possible and go for a 4-0 sweep,” Rebels linebacker Clayton Papp said.
Papp and his teammates have taken note of the Mustangs’ recent success and are taking nothing for granted. South Effingham is 2-0 for the first time since 2015 after toppling Class AAA No. 8 Jenkins 29-26 in their last game.
“It would be a good thing to go 4-0 but they have a good squad this year,” Rebels quarterback/receiver D’Andre Johnson said. “We can’t take those boys lightly. We’ve got to come for it, too.”
First-year South Effingham head coach Nathan Clark is looking forward to his first taste of the battle for the County Championship Trophy.
“Anytime you are able to play in such a big rivalry game it is something very special,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play in lots of very big games in my coaching career but I have never been apart of a crosstown/county rivalry game like I’m about to experience Friday night. It is going to be very special and a lot of fun!
“I expect the atmosphere to be electric and can’t wait to see the ’Stang Gang decked out in black supporting the Mustangs.”
Papp has heard a lot of chatter about South Effingham. Led by senior quarterback Taylor Jackson, it exploded for a school-record 62 points in its opener against Long County.
“It comes off that they think they are the best thing around with what they are doing right now,” Papp said.
Johnson understands the excitement surrounding the Mustangs.
“They are doing good so far,” he said. “After watching some of their film, they look nice. You can’t take their game from them.
“We’ve got to come out and play our game.”
Rebels head coach Buddy Holder concurs.
“They are very well coached and they have some good players,” Holder said. “We are going to have to play well. That’s for sure.”
Papp’s assessment of his team, especially defensively, was a bit critical. He said it is looking for “a spark.”
“I think we are doing pretty well but there are a few big things that we have to fix like giving up big plays on fourth down,” he said.
Holder wants the Rebels to focus on their assignments and avoid getting caught up in the rivalry aspects of the game.
“No matter who you play, you try to be the very best you can be,” he said. “We try to get our guys to grade 100 on each individual play. No matter what you do on that play, you go to play two next because play one is done.
“We try to move play by play and eliminate the scoreboard and that kind of thing, and just play as hard as we possibly can. We try to be the very best team we can be each week by doing that. That’s all we can control. We can’t control them or anything they’ve done just like they can’t control us or the fact that we didn’t play (last Friday because of Hurricane Dorian).
“They are in the same boat we are. They have to worry about themselves and we have to worry about ourselves.”
Effingham County's seniors, however, can’t help but think about what a victory would mean for them. Short of securing a Class AAAAAA championship, a clean sweep of the Mustangs would top their list of football accomplishments.
“That would always be the biggest thing,” cornerback Willie Ferrel said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Correspondent Trice Williams contributed to this report.