Like many stadiums across the state, Rebel Field will be buzzing Friday night.
Effingham County hosts Groves in a 7:30 p.m. scrimmage.
ECHS football coach Jack Webb and his staff will find out how far along their team is and what adjustments need to be made before the season officially starts Aug. 31 against Richmond Academy.
“We’re going to see who can block and tackle and work on the basic parts of the game,” Webb said. “We want to see who knows their assignments, knows what to do and can perform under pressure.”
The Rebels have a young offense this season, returning only three starters in Quarterback Chris Hamilton, fullback Craig Moore and right tackle Nick Brant.
Gone are the Wright twins, who accounted for almost two-thirds of the Rebels’ offense last season. Anthony Wright rushed for 1,071 yards and Antwan Wright rushed for 961 yards. Webb said he would work eight backs into the rotation Friday night.
Effingham’s backs do more than just carry the ball in the Wishbone formation, which features two halfbacks and a fullback. They also must block.
“We need hard-nosed football players, particularly our running backs,” Webb said. “We run a pounding offense and they have to block a lot, too. If they don’t block, then they probably won’t carry the ball.”
In addition to working on the running game, Webb also wants to work on the passing game.
“We want to see if we can throw the football more this year,” he said. “We’ve got to be able to throw it. I’m not talking 45-50 times a game, but I want to get comfortable throwing it, so it’s more of a threat than just third-and-long.”
Seeing the Rebels throw the ball last year was rare. Hamilton, the team’s only passer, threw the ball only 24 times in 10 games for 111 yards.
Effingham’s strength this year lies in its defense, which returns eight starters. Starters returning include defensive end Cedric Taylor, defensive linemen Josh Kight and Emir Davis, linebackers Daniel Mungin, D.J. Collins and Kaleb Writch and defensive backs Raymond Hines and Eric Maxwell.
Notes: Groves, who finished 7-4 last season and lost in the first round of the state playoffs, is in a rebuilding year. The Fightin’ Scottish Rebels return only six starters and have a new coach in Richard Redding, who succeeds Karl DeMasi.
On offense, Groves runs the Wing-T and on defense lines up in a 4-2-5.
South Effingham’s coaching staff has the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone Friday night by scouting both Groves and Effingham, since the Mustangs open the season Aug. 31 against Groves and play Effingham County the following Friday.