After two emotional wins, the South Effingham Mustangs don’t want to have a letdown in Friday’s football game at Bryan County.
South Effingham head football coach Greg Manior said his team must stay focused.
“We got great leadership this year with our senior class and the coaches and senior class have got to step up and keep everyone focused and motivated,” he said. “We take it one week at a time, one game at a time.”
Manior said the team has looked good in practice this week, still pumped up from their win over Effingham last week.
“We’re building off the win against Effingham and hopefully that will catapult us to where we need to be,” he said. “The guys are working hard and are enthusiastic about everything.”
To start the season, the Mustangs defeated Groves 35-21 and followed with a 20-6 win over Effingham County. The wins impressed football coaches across the state enough to garner the Mustangs a No. 8 ranking in the gasports.com coaches poll.
Senior offensive lineman Jasen Bowers said the Mustangs are just getting warmed up.
“We were coming off a little slow after summer practices, but now that we’ve been through our first two games I think everyone’s getting pumped up and ready to go,” he said. “It’s my senior year, so I try to get the offensive line pumped up. This is our last season so everyone’s pumped up and you just got to love football and love the game to be out here.”
Meanwhile, Bryan County lost two heartbreakers. The Redskins opened the season with a 3-0 loss to Richmond Hill and lost 41-40 to Long County last week.
Despite the 0-2 start, the Redskins’ wishbone offense seems to be clicking. They rushed for 449 yards last week, powered by running back Ivey Mutcherson’s 327 yards. Quarterback D.J. McElroy and offensive linemen Mike Mitchell and Matt Dutcher also pitched in.
“Bryan County has athletes on the field. “They are not going to be a pushover,” Manior said. “We can’t just show up and expect to win.”
After reviewing game film, Manior said the Redskins have a good offensive line that stays on its blocks, which can prove to be dangerous if they create a crease.
“They have a couple of running backs where if they get in open space, they’re gone,” he said. “When they get in open space, they’re hard to bring down. We got to keep him (Mutcherson) under containment. We can’t let him find a crease.”
“We’ve got a good ball club, but we’ve made some errors,” Bryan County head football coach Ron Lewis said. “We have guys starting who haven’t played in those positions before and they’re playing more minutes than before, but we’ll be OK.”
With only 47 players on the roster, Lewis said most of his starters play on both sides of the ball, which can prove tiring.
One player in particular Lewis is fond of is senior Willie Harris, who has stepped up to play safety and running back. Harris was called upon to start when Willie DeLoach got injured.
“He’s (Harris) probably one of the hardest working kids we have,” Lewis said. “He’s working hard.”
The Mustangs dominated the Redskins last season, winning 52-13 at The Corral for their first win of the season.
Lewis, who used to run the Wing-T at Bryan County until last season, said the Mustangs don’t run a conventional Wing-T, but whatever they run works.
“Whatever they do, they do a good job,” he said. “It’s harder to read it and they do a good job of staying on blocks and getting the extra yardage. I’ve never seen anyone quit on a play.”
Manior expects Lewis to pull out all the stops Friday night. Lewis has a penchant for the onside kick, having attempted it seven times this season.
We have to be focused and expect anything on Friday night,” Manior said. “We’ll be ready for the onside kick and if he kicks it to us, we can get on the ball and get a good drive going.”
This will be the Mustangs’ first road trip of the season, albeit a quick one to Pembroke.
“Being a road trip changes the atmosphere but the football field is still a hundred yards long and we got to do what we got to do,” Manior said. “Being so close doesn’t change our pre-game ritual at the school. We’ll still eat at the school and take a power nap.”
South Effingham at Bryan County
• Records: SEHS 2-0, BCHS 0-2
• Time: 7:30 p.m.
• Where: Redskin Stadium, Pembroke
• Tickets: $7 at the gate
• Radio: WSGA FM-92.3