A 35-0 blowout win over Richmond Academy on Friday put the Evans football team in new territory: The Knights are undefeated at 5-0 for the first time in 20 years.
The stage is set.
Statesboro, also undefeated at 5-0, will travel to Evans this Friday with sole possession of first place in the Region 3-AAAA standings up for grabs.
"Each game gets bigger," Evans football coach Marty Jackson said after the victory at Richmond Academy. "We got to that fifth rung on the ladder, and we've got another step next week we're going to take."
That step will be the toughest to date for the Knights. Not only are the Blue Devils undefeated this season, they've never lost to Evans in the nine times the two teams have faced each other. Statesboro has scored an average of just more than 44 points per game in those nine wins. Evans has never scored double digits in the series.
Then again, the Knights aren't exactly repeating school history this year. The team philosophy has changed a bit, and Jackson said it's made all the difference.
"Our goal is to win, and if we keep that in the forefront everything else takes care of itself," Jackson said. "It doesn't matter if you didn't score. That's something that's changed over the last couple of years. When we met in January I told them this is one of the things that bothers me. You cannot be selfish and win."
The results have been obvious. A dozen different Knights have carried the ball so far this year. Five of them have touched the ball at least 10 times. In the Evans passing game, eight different Knights have at least one reception.
It's a demonstration in sharing that would impress even the strictest grammar school teacher.
"We're all playing as a team," senior Jonathan Nicely said. "We're just worried about winning. That's our main goal. It's all about unity."
It has all led to the biggest game of the year on homecoming night at Evans High School. John Pierce Blanchard Stadium is expected to be filled to capacity as the Knights try to remain undefeated, take control of the region standings and, in the sixth week of the season, guarantee a winning record for the first time since 2004.
It won't be easy. Statesboro, ranked No. 5 in last week's Class AAAA coaches poll, knocked off Greenbrier 40-17 on Friday. It was the Blue Devils' 29th region win in their past 30 region games.
Jackson said he can only concentrate on his own squad.
"I expect us to be prepared," he said. "I know it'll be a good week of practice, and we'll be ready to take our next step."
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