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Effingham Herald • Wednesday, August 19, 2015 • Page 1B

F all sports previews 2015 Effingham County/South Effingham

Effingham County football

South Effingham football

Rebels need to fill big holes across the field By Pa t r i ck Do na hue Editor for the

Effingham Herald

The seniors on the Effingham County High School football team have never had a losing season. They will have a demanding task ahead of them to continue the streak and perhaps earn a playoff berth. The Rebels, 6-4 last season, have been trying to replace the vacancies left by a host of graduating players, including several longtime standouts. “We don’t have the luxury of some schools where we’re three and four and five deep,” said Rebels coach Buddy Holder, set to begin his third season at the program’s helm. “We were very young trying to fill these holes. The kids playing behind them the last few years didn’t get a lot of playing time.” The most notable departures were those of Robbie Garvin and running back Nieem Bartley. Garvin was a first-team all-Region 3-AAAAA selection and was a three-time all-region player. “How do you fill that?” Holder asked. “That’s a huge hole to fill.” Holder also pointed out that Dajuan Mitchell’s graduation left a big hole in the middle of the defensive line and it is tough “just to try to put in someone of that size and take up the space he took up,” he said. “He had great feet for a big kid.” The defensive front seven also lost Tevin Holmes and Stevie Robinson. The Rebels also lost the bulk of their secondary, including safeties B.J. Williams and Ashton King and cornerback Jake Anderson. “Defensively, we’ve got a whole lot of guys who have to step up and show they can do the job,” Holder said. The Rebels will bring back senior linebacker Matthew Bowen, senior defensive lineman Danny Doe and sophomore defensive back Demonte Lee. Senior quarterback Phillip Brown returns as a two-year full-time starter and he has been a starter for most of the last three seasons. As a junior, he threw for 792 yards, completing 59 of 125 passes for nine touchdowns. He also added 388 yards rushing. Brown missed Effingham’s loss to Glynn Academy but returned the following week to help lead the Rebels to a season-ending victory over Statesboro. Holder said Brown has continued to progress as a quarterback and though he wasn’t at full speed for the 2014 season finale, he is now. “He’s doing the things he needs to do to get better every day,” Holder said of Brown, who was all-region honorable mention last year. “That’s the thing he has to continue to do, get better every day to be the best he can be each Friday.” Dusty Baker likely will not come off the

Effingham County 2015 schedule

Aug. 21 Aug. 28 Sept. 4 Sept. 11 Sept. 18 Sept. 25 Oct. 2 Oct. 9 Oct. 16 Oct. 23 Oct. 30 Nov. 6

Liberty County at Bluffton (S.C.) Open at South Effingham Brunswick at Coffee Richmond Hill at Bradwell Institute Ware County at Glynn Academy Open Statesboro

7:30 7:30 7:30 7:30 7:30 7:30 7:30 7:30 7:30 7:30

all times are p.m.

2014 results

at Liberty County Bluffton (S.C.) South Effingham, at Brunswick Coffee at Richmond Hill Bradwell Institute at Ware County Glynn Academy at Statesboro

W, 35-7 W, 21-8 W, 14-7 L, 40-19 L, 58-26 W, 24-20 W, 30-12 L, 36-6 L, 35-14 W, 14-13

field for the Rebels. A starting defensive back, he also may supplant the graduated Nieem Bartley at running back. In just eight games last season, Bartley ran for 1,076 yards. “Dusty could probably play all 22 positions and tell you how to do it,” Holder said. “You can play him in all sorts of areas. We do have a select few of our better athletes who are going to have play on both sides of the ball. We work on that through the summer.” The Rebels were hit hard on the offensive line, as all-region first-teamer Brannen Wilson graduated, as did starters D.J. Kirkland and Beaman King. The Rebels also lost starting center Blake Fowler midway through the season to an injury prior to his graduation. “Those are pretty big holes,” Holder said. Junior Justin Hinely filled in for Fowler last season and returns as one of the few experienced offensive linemen for the Rebels. “Hinely stepped up and did a good job,” Holder said. “He got some experience at center last year. He has to play as a boy dog in our region, that’s for sure, with the fronts see rebels, page 4B

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Linebacker Matthew Bowen is one of the few returning players on the Effingham County Rebels defense.

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Senior running back Patrick Brown is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

Mustangs to ride their potent, veteran backfield By Pa t r ic k D on a hu e Editor for the

Effingham Herald

It’s a luxury the South Effingham Mustangs haven’t had in a while entering a football season. The Mustangs return their entire starting backfield and will have coach Michael Farley back for a second season as offensive coordinator. “We’ve got some real positives,” said Mustangs coach Donnie Revell. “We’ve got three-year starters back in the backfield. We’ve got three-year starters on the offensive line. That helps.” The Mustangs bring back three-year starters at quarterback and running back. Senior Tyler Pullum threw for 1,346 yards and five touchdowns, completing 99 of 197 passes. But his top four targets graduated. The returning receivers had 26 catches total a year ago. Senior Patrick Brown is coming off backto-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Last year, Brown ran for 1,034 yards on 199 carries, scoring seven touchdowns. He had five games of at least 100 yards and ran for 207 in the loss to Coffee. Brown’s size — he’s 5-foot-10 and 162 pounds — may scare off bigger colleges from recruiting him. But his work ethic, Revell said, is gigantic. “He’s one of the strongest kids I’ve ever had the privilege to coach,” Revell said. “When you see him in practice he goes 100 percent all the time.” Senior Nick Reno returns at fullback after missing five games last year. “We’ve got some stability there coming back,” Revell said. “With Patrick, Nick Reno and Tyler returning as three year starters, that’s a big plus.” The offensive line also returns three senior starters, including massive Sheldon Froelich and Tike Mydell. Froelich gives the Mustangs a bookend tackle at 6-7, 295, and Mydell (6-2, 295) returns at guard. Luke Kush, a 5-10, 235-pound senior who played guard and center, also returns. How effective Brown can be is up to the Mustangs up front — and the more successful Brown is, the easier it may be for Pullum to trigger the passing game. “If we can get some guys up front and open some holes for him, we think Patrick can have a good year,” Revell said. “If we can get him going, that’s going to help Tyler out and give him the opportunity to throw the ball. We’re going to have to be opportunistic and take what the defense gives us.” Though Pullum’s baseball obligations kept away from spring practice, but he’s put in the work over the summer. With a second year under Farley’s offense and his terminology, the learning curve has been straightened out.

South Effingham 2015 schedule

Aug. 28 Jenkins Sept. 4 at SEB Sept. 11 Effingham County Sept. 18 at Statesboro Sept. 25 Open Oct. 2 Brunswick Oct. 9 at Coffee Oct. 16 Richmond Hill Oct. 22 at Bradwell Institute Oct. 30 Ware County Nov. 6 at Glynn Academy all times are p.m.

7:30 7:30 7:30 7:30 7:30 7:30 7:30 7 7:30 7:30

2014 results

at Jenkins L, 31-8 Southeast Bulloch W, 24-0 at Effingham County L, 14-7 Statesboro W, 17-0 at Brunswick L, 20-8 Coffee L, 35-28 at Richmond Hill W, 15-14 Bradwell Institute W, 30-12 at Ware County L, 44-6 Glynn Academy L, 27-23

“Tyler was able to step right in and not miss a beat. That’s been a huge plus for us,” Revell said. Having an offensive coordinator back for a second season, after a run of coordinators coming in and leaving after year, has allowed the players to get more comfortable in what they’re supposed to do, Revell said. Pullum will be throwing to a virtually new crop of receivers. Four of his top five receivers from last year — Jake Elliott, Landon Lanier, Justin Bisard and Taylor Donovan — graduated. With them went 71 catches, 1,005 yards and all seven receiving touchdowns. Marcus Boyd, who had 248 yards on 15 catches, is back for his senior season. But finding other players to fill a depleted receiving corps is a concern. “We lost some really good people,” Revell lamented. “We have some holes to fill. Some of the young kids are going to have to step up to play. We’ve got to find those guys to be consistent like Jake, Landon and Taylor Donovan were.” While leading tackler Corey Horne and third-leading tackler Brandon Jenkins having graduated, junior Makenzy Newbill and senior Kareem Taylor will lead the defense. Newbill had 72 tackles last season and Taylor see mustangs, page 4B

Page 4B • Wednesday, August 19, 2015 • Effingham Herald

Effingham County cross country

South Effingham cross country

No steps back for Rebels

Soles ‘excited’ about Mustangs By Pa t r ic k D on a hu e

By Pa t r i c k D o na hue

Editor for the

Editor for the

Effingham Herald

Effingham Herald

The plan Mark Weese has set out for his Effingham County boys and girls cross country teams is to continue moving forward. For the second-year coach, he wants his team to pick up where it left off at the end of the 2014 season. “My big thing I stressed was that we were going to start this season where we ended last year,” he said. “We were not going to spend a month getting back into shape. For some of them, it looks very hopeful. They have been training very hard over the summer. I have confidence in them.” The Effingham County cross country teams had their first offseason under Weese, who took the job just before the start of the 2014 campaign. As part of his offseason regimen, he had the boys and girls run as many miles as they could. Several topped the 500-mile mark. “We got a lot of training in over the summer,” he said. “So I’m encouraged by that.” Over the summer, the team met five days a week early in the morning, running at different trails around the county. They went to the school system’s property off Hodgeville Road, the old Lisnacullen tract, to run. Several runners also attended a camp in Asheville, N.C. “What it takes to be a good runner is dedication and commitment,” Weese said. “I can’t run it for them. I tell them what I like and some of these returning veterans have really stepped up.” Weese brings back most of his boys team that finished eight points away from qualifying for the state Class AAAAA meet. Leading the way will be juniors Justin Dolata and Noah McIntosh. McIntosh finished 14 at the Region 3-AAAAA meet last year, and he and Dolata ran several 5Ks over the summer, Weese said. “I’m confident in their leadership,” the coach said. “Our boys team is looking strong.” Freshman Rafael Osella was one of Weese’s top distance runners on the Ebenezer Middle School track team, and he logged nearly 350 miles this summer. “He’s got a fire under him already,” Weese said. As a middle school coach and teacher, Weese also is busy lining up runners to take part on the junior varsi-

Rebels FROM PAGE 1B we’re going to see.” King’s graduation hurt the secondary and also took away Brown’s favorite target from last year. In the spring Blue-White game, DeMario Gant had a 26-yard touchdown catch and an interception return for a score. “Mario had a good spring game,” Holder said. “He has to play to his potential every day when he goes out there and be consistent. That’s the thing with younger kids we battle as coaches, not to have one great day but to be steady. We have to get that consistency out of them.” The Rebels also may turn to Dameon Roper and Rashaud Roper. Though the Rebels have overwhelming numbers — Holder has counted more than 130 players on the squad — a scrimmage against the likes of Screven can help the numerous lessexperienced Rebels understand what lies ahead. “It’s almost like a rivalry game,” Holder said. “It gets us ready right off the bat in dealing with an atmosphere.” In the meantime, Holder and his staff have their hands

File photo

Junior Marina Van Sickle ran in the Class AAAAA state cross country meet last year. ty squad. “I’ve got a handful of eighth graders again who will be competing with us in the JV races,” he said. “I can get some of my eighth graders and as they come into ninth grade, they have a year of experience.” Weese also brings back the top five finishers from his girls team last year, including junior Marina Van Sickle. Van Sickle was third at the region meet and finished 48th at the state meet. Seniors Ashley Kasser, Faith Deal and Taylor Walsh also are back, and Walsh was 14th at the region meet last year. Freshman Catherine Hall, who was the top distance runner in Effingham County Middle School’s region last year, will join the returning runners. The Lady Rebels also were only eight points out of qualifying for the state meet as a team. “We have a little more depth than we had last year, which is exciting,” Weese said. “Our committed runners are back again. We’re not losing anyone who was in our top five, but we are gaining some people who will be in our top five.” Along with the running regimen, Weese also has inculcated a sense of togetherness with the team members. He’s also involved their parents into the mix. “I emphasized it at our parents’ meeting that it is a family kind of feel,” he said. “The parent commitment has gotten real big. I just had a parent meeting and I didn’t have enough chairs. The spirit is high.” The team eats dinner together once a week in what Weese called a “team huddle”

— it also works out that they choose to eat at Huddle House more than anywhere else. “The kids enjoy that,” he said. “We work hard together but we also play hard together. It just emphasizes that family feel. They have a lot of fun together.” But when it comes to running, Weese has a plan for each runner, either for workouts or for a race. He talks to each runner individually, discussing where they are in their progress, where they want to be and how they can get there. “Before every race, we just don’t run. Everyone has a specific plan going into the race,” he said. “I stress before every workout now is the time to focus — how are we going to use this workout to make us better?” Though Van Sickle was the lone member of the ECHS cross country teams to quality for state from the region meet, Weese took several other runners to see the course in Carrollton, see the competition there and cheer on their teammate. His aim now is to take more runners this October — and to be not merely bystanders. “I took one girl to state last year, and I’m hoping to take a bus to state this year and get both teams there,” he said. “That bus ride home from region last year was pretty quiet. But I think it lit a fire. I think the kids understand how close it is. It really was motivation going into it this season. “We’re excited about this season,” Weese added. “We’re going in confident.”

full managing practices and workloads for more than 130 players on the varsity, junior varsity and C team. “You almost need three staffs to keep that many kids in the program,” he said. “We spend a lot of time in group and team time. They work on fundamentals every day. I’m a believer in that, rather than running a thousand plays. That’s how they have to progress. That’s the only way we’re going to learn how

to play football. Our guys are good about doing that. Hopefully, it’s going to pay off down the road.” To Holder, if the Rebels can get better every day, the rest will take care of itself. “We just want to get better every day and keep climbing the ladder that way,” he said. “We want to try to improve every day on something so we continuously get better every Friday when we go out there. That’s all we can hope for.”

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Practices have been busy for the South Effingham cross country team, and with good reason. Coach Laura Soles has had a strong contingent of runners available, and their numbers and dedication has her optimistic about the coming season. “I am very excited,” she said. “I have 32 of them who have come out running and they are doing a great job. I’m so excited to start competing.” Soles is expecting more good things from a veteran and deep girls team. The Lady Mustangs qualified for the state meet last year, and they bring back their top two runners from last season, Pricilla Cartwright and Rachel Larson. Cartwright and Larson, who has been running cross country since middle school, also ran throughout the summer, Soles said. Cartwright had four top-five finishes a year ago, including a fourth place at the region meet, and Larson turned in four top10s. Also back are Chloe Britt, Derlysa Williams, Kaleigh Dowdy, Liz Habersham and Lauren Gordon. The boys team lost its top runner from 2014, Craig Smith, but the strength of the team could be in its numbers. Senior Bryce Griggs and senior Michael Nicome will pace the boys team. Nicome had a season-best time of 20:14 in the final regular-season meet last year, and Griggs ran an 18:24 at the region meet for his best time.

Mustangs FROM PAGE 1B had 67 stops, including a team-best eight for losses. Senior Luke McCann had four interceptions a year ago to lead the Mustangs. “Obviously, we’ve got some holes to fill,” Revell said. “We’ve got some players who have stepped up and worked hard over the summer, and came in with a good mindset.” Junior Irving Jones, who played at strong safety last year, has worked hard in the weight room, Revell said, and may move inside. Taylor had a good year at linebacker last season, Revell added, and Trent Zeigler is back at his defensive end/outside linebacker spot. Replacing Jenkins at end might fall to more than one player, the coach said. “It might be a couple of guys, depending on down and distance,” Revell explained. The situation may be more dire in the defensive backfield. Graduation wiped out nearly the entire secondary, except for Luke McCann, and McCann has been slowed by an offseason injury. “We’re going to have to have some help in the secondary,” Revell said. McCann is a dangerous return man and he’s the team’s long snapper, Revell pointed out. The coach expects to have the senior back for the season opener. “That will be a big plus once we get him back,” Revell said. “There are a lot of roles he fills.” Place kicker James Hodges could provide a big difference for the Mustangs this season. He was 17-of-18 on point after touchdown tries last year and connected on three field goals, with a long of 34 yards. Given how much his senior kicker has worked this summer, including attending kicking camps, Revell believes he is capable of a good season. “James had really worked hard,” the coach

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Senior Pricilla Cartwright leads a deep Lady Mustangs cross country team. “Bryce had great times last year and has put his miles in this summer,” Soles said. “Bryce and Michael are ready to roll.” Ben Magondu, Austin Carter and Thomas Grant have put in their summer work, Soles added, and she’s also expecting contributions from Tyler Fortner, Edwin Garcia, Matt Grant and Michael McRae, who are new to high school cross country. “I have a bunch of ninth grade boys coming up, and one or two of them are going to be running with the varsity at Effingham,” Soles said.

said. “He has taken this seriously and tried to get better. The biggest thing is consistency. He has worked hard at that area. We feel pretty good about where he’s at.” While the Mustangs have the largest senior class in Revell’s head coaching tenure, building depth will be paramount, he said. They lost by seven to rival Effingham County, had a late lead against Brunswick slip away in a 20-8 loss, dropped a 35-28 decision to Coffee and fell by four points to Glynn Academy. “Depth is something we have to find,” Revell said, “maybe find that offensive guy who can crossover and can fill that hole if someone gets hurt or get us minutes if we need it in critical situations.” Playing close games is a double-edged sword — while it means you have a chance to win, it also limits the opportunities to get younger, less experienced players in the game in low-pressure situations. South Effingham, 4-6 a year ago, had four of its five region losses come by a combined 30 points. “One thing that hurt us is the games have been really close, so you don’t have a chance to play those younger players because your first-team guys are playing the entire game,” Revell said. “If you’re close, that means you’re in the game.” Those close losses a year ago have spurred the returning players, Revell said. “The players have worked really hard,” he said. “Our juniors and sophomores who played last year know what it was like. They worked hard. They have a mindset to work hard. We have really good senior leadership. “As always, we need good things to happen to us and happen early,” Revell continued. ”And we have to make some things happen. Our coaches work hard to try to give them an opportunity to make a play and to win. That’s what you want. It still comes down to players making a play and blocking and tackling.”

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Fall Sports Previews 2015  

A look at fall sports programs at Effingham County and South Effingham high schools.

Fall Sports Previews 2015  

A look at fall sports programs at Effingham County and South Effingham high schools.