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Rebels show promise during scrimmage
Rett Heller
Rebels center Rett Heller tries to charge up his team's fans during a first-half drive Friday. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

SPRINGFIELD -- Effingham County football coach John Ford liked what he saw during Friday night’s scrimmage against Screven County.

The Rebels offense looked crisp. The defense flew around making plays. And lots of players got snaps.

And while the scoreboard shouldn’t have been a factor, a team that won just three games last season came away happy with the posted results.

The ECHS varsity had the better of play, winning 13-6 through three quarters, and the Rebels freshmen tacked on another touchdown on the final play of the night for good measure.

“You can’t replicate going against someone else so I was pleased,” Ford said. “We had some penalties in the red zone and that will kill you but, overall, I thought we executed well. They played fast and they communicated.”

First-year starting quarterback Matthew Ford, a senior, directed the spread attack with seasoned efficiency. He completed 12 of 13 passes for 112 yards and had a 5-yard touchdown toss to Khiry Wallace while playing two full possessions in the first half.

Sophomore Nate Hayes followed Ford and completed his hree pass attempts for 14 yards. Hayes hooked up with Colton Oglesby for a 5-yard score during his three possessions.

On the final play of the scrimmage, freshman Lamar Roberts connected with Antwan Parham for a 13-yard TD.

ECHS’ quarterbacks were a combined 18 of 21 for 178 yards and 3 TDs.

The Rebels defense was equally productive, recording nine tackles for losses. Defensive back Caleb Williams, known for his steals on the basketball team, had an interception.

The Gamecocks clicked on two long pass plays -- including an 81-yard TD pass. But if you take away the 81-yarder and another 46-yarder, ECHS allowed just 31 yards in 34 snaps.

Screven had just five first downs in eight series.

It was an optimistic season preview for a crowd boosted by a youth tailgating promotion. 

More importantly, Ford will have a lot of film to evaluate before the Aug. 27 season opener against Beaufort, S.C. Twelve Rebels carried the ball and 10 caught passes from four quarterbacks.

“I feel pretty good about where they’re going, but we have to get better the next two weeks,” Ford said.