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Reins of Rebels' offense up for graps
Housebirk
Effingham County's Desmond House heads toward the end zone en route to one of his three touchdowns Friday night.

Aug. 23 — Evans, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 30 — Groves, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 6 — Beaufort, S.C., 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 13 — at South Effingham, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 20 — Statesboro, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 27 — Burke County, 7:30 p.m.

* Oct. 11 — at Bradwell Institute, 7:30 p.m.

* Oct. 18 — at Brunswick, 7:30 p.m.

* Nov. 1 — Glynn Academy, 7:30 p.m.

* Nov. 8 — Richmond Hill, 7:30 p.m.

* — 2-AAAAAA game

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SPRINGFIELD — Effingham County’s biggest question headed into the fall is how the quarterback situation will play out. As of now, Zach Garcia and D’Andre Johnson will split reps until some separation in their performances develops. 

The Rebels graduated three-year starter Jerid Stokes, who threw for 1,057 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2018. Now head coach Buddy Holder is looking for Garcia or Johnson to emerge.

“We are going to rotate them as we need to until somebody steps up and takes the job and gives us a reason not to rotate them,” Holder said. “It’s going to be the guy that is consistent and helps our team the best.”

And with just one returner on the offensive line in Devontra Bartley, the Rebels must learn to play together as a unit fairly quickly to enable playmakers such as Desmond House and Randy Scott to do what they do best. House led the area in scoring last season, finishing with 14 touchdowns. Scott, who also plays defensive back, was a reliable weapon on offense as well.

Desmond, about a year and a half ago, just earned the (running back) position,” Holder said. “He played more consistent and did things the way they were supposed to be done. He is very disciplined and he showed us what he can do. He’s got tremendous vision, he’s strong and he has a big heart.

“He doesn’t back down to competition. He’s not one of these guys who only goes good when things are going good. He’s a blue-collar kind of guy. No matter what’s in front of him, he’s going to find a way to get around it. He’s just that kind of a runner.”

Other notable offensive players with considerable experience are tight end Necos Gadson and lineman Mason Nease. 

In order to be successful, Holder stressed the significance of each offensive player doing his job and playing together as one.

“We hope so,” Holder said when asked if he thinks his team has firepower on offense. “Those guys (backs and receivers) can’t do anything if the guys up front can’t block. All of those pieces have to fit together.

“This group has really shown us that they are coming together —the competitiveness we’ve had on the field. They really compete hard. You want all 11 of them to be very good and play at the highest level.

“We are counting on the offensive line. With Nease, we are counting on him to step up and he has shown a lot of progress through the spring.”

In the middle on defense, the Rebels need two thumpers to replace Zekeil Walls and Andrew Delapenia, the squad’s leading tackler’s last season. A grueling summer regimen of weight training will benefit the players who are candidates to step up and be a force in the defensive interior.

“We’ve gotten stronger and better conditioned,” Holder said. “They work hard out here and in the weight room. We hosted several 7-on-7s and padded camps. Seven-on-sevenss gave us a more realistic look before the games start”

The Rebels have consistently been in middle of the pack when it comes to Region 2-AAAAAA but the team is eager to get over that hump this year. 

“You want to see kids improve, to show the competitiveness, but we stress two things — discipline and mental toughness,,” Holder said. “We want to see these guys mature from the time they come in as rising ninth graders. That’s what we want to see. 

“House came in as a sophomore, earned the position and it’s really good to see that. If we can get a hundred kid to do that, we have a chance to be pretty good as a team.”

Effingham County will host Screven County on Friday in a preseason scrimmage. It will kick off the regular season Aug. 23 at home against Evans.

Both contests will start at 7:30 p.m.