Bradwell Institute’s game at Statesboro on Friday will be a homecoming of sorts for BI head coach Greg Hill.
Hill’s prowess as a national-champion, triple-option virtuoso at Georgia Southern University is common knowledge. However, once Hill finished his time playing in the Canadian Football League and worked with his mentor Paul Johnson for a time, he decided to make use of his degree in special education.
“The first thing I think about when I think about Statesboro is tradition,” Hill said.
Statesboro is where Hill first experienced teaching and coaching high-school football for Blue Devils head coach Steve Pennington. Hill spent 2004 through 2012 as an assistant on Pennington’s staff. During those eight years, the Blue Devils played for two state championships, winning one.
Hill’s time at Statesboro was when the Blue Devils were one of the state’s most-dominant programs regardless of class. In Pennington’s first two seasons at Statesboro, he was 30-1, including a 15-0 AAAA state-championship season in 2005. Even just a few years ago, the Blue Devils had a 10-3 season in 2013.
Moving up to Region 3-AAAAA has been tough on Statesboro, however. Last season, the Blue Devils finished 2-8, with their only wins coming against Richmond Hill (14-13) and Bradwell (17-0).
This season, Statesboro pulled out a win against Region 3-AAAAA foe Brunswick, 7-6. Last week, the Blue Devils lost 39-14 in a region game to Richmond Hill.
Bradwell and Statesboro both have penchants to run the football.
In fact, MaxPreps.com has the two teams within a couple of decimal points, averaging 182 yards rushing per game. The Blue Devils tend to throw the ball more, which gives them about
300 yards of offense per game, 90 more than Bradwell’s average.
Statesboro also has scored nearly double the points that the Tigers (0-6 overall, 0-4 in region) have and allowed 159 points to the Tigers’ 177 points against.
Injuries have plagued the Blue Devils this season, as they have played most of the season without three starting offensive linemen. Pennington understands that injuries are part of the game, and that has been one area where the Blue Devils have put some younger players in positions to step up.
Despite the record, the Blue Devils still keep to the hard-nosed running game that Pennington has been putting together for years. Senior Mahlon Williams is one of the key running backs for the Blue Devils, averaging close to 200 rushing yards per game and is their scoring leader.
He scored two touchdowns in the second quarter against Coffee, putting the Blue Devils up on the powerful Trojans 14-13 at the half. The physical Coffee team came back to defeat Statesboro, 35-20.
However, Williams may be questionable for the Bradwell game because he suffered a high ankle sprain last week. Tupac Lanier and Jalon Davis are expected to pick up the slack on the offensive side of the ball.
“We certainly have a good opportunity against Statesboro Friday night. We are going to have to be able to execute the fundamentals and if we do that, we should have an opportunity to be successful,” Hill said.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.