By looking at the calendar, the state football playoffs don’t start for two weeks. By the Effingham County Rebels’ point of view, their playoffs already started.
“Right before the Wayne County, we told ourselves this will start our playoffs,” Rebels coach Jack Webb said.
When the Rebels faced the Yellow Jackets, they were 2-4 overall and 2-3 in Region 3-AAAA. Since then, their 27-0 win over Wayne and last week’s 7-3 defeat of Statesboro help put the Rebels squarely back in the playoff race.
At 4-3, the Rebels are one game out of the four-way logjam for second place. Two of those four teams, Brunswick, Evans, Glynn Academy and Statesboro, will lose Friday night — Brunswick hosts Statesboro and Evans meets Glynn Academy.
“We worked out nine different scenarios that could happen in the next two weeks,” Webb said.
But Effingham must still take care of its own business first before worrying about playoff ramifications. The Lakeside-Evans Panthers are 3-6 overall and 2-6 in the region but boast one of the region’s best passing attacks.
Quarterback Chad Chandler is 113-of-202 for 1,241 yards and three touchdowns through eight games, though he has thrown 11 interceptions. Dustin Banks has 26 catches for 397 yards and two TDs and Levi Hanks has 28 receptions for 351 yards.
“To me, they’ve got the best passing quarterback and receiver combination we’ll face this year,” Webb said. “Their ability to make a big play at anytime, that scares me to death.”
Effingham was stymied by Statesboro’s defense last week, but the Rebels returned the favor in a game dictated by defense, field position and a handful of gut-checks the Rebels passed. Statesboro had five possessions in Rebels’ territory after its field goal but was turned away each time, including a stop on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line.