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Rejuvenated Windsor Forest here to battle state-ranked Gamecocks
Fresh from ending their 25-game losing streak with a resounding 21-0 whipping of 2AA Groves last week, the 3AAAA Windsor Forest Knights will invade Kelly Memorial Stadium Friday night to face the Class AA seventh-ranked Screven County Gamecocks in what is the Roosters’ annual Homecoming game.
For SCHS head coach Ron Duncan, the game boils down to getting through the game healthy and avoiding a look forward to next week’s region-opening encounter with the Jefferson County Warriors.
A year ago SCHS and Jefferson County finished one and two in Region 3AA, the championship being decided by the Roosters’ 12-7 win over home-standing Jefferson County on Sept. 26.
“We will not look ahead,” said Duncan. “We will treat this game the same way we treat the next game and so on.”
First-year Windsor Forest head coach Greg Busby, son of former Statesboro High School coach Buzz Busby, has the Knights apparently going in the right direction.
Busby has simplified the offense, switching primarily to a full house Wishbone backfield with a double tight end line. The plan is apparently to pound and pound and wear their opponents down.
The size of a college team, the Knights offensive line from tight end to tight end against Groves was Cundarius Shepherd (6-2, 200); Jaleen Jones (6-3, 302); Jemetre Williams (6-2, 305); Bradley Chrestensen (6-2, 290); Malik Simmons (5-5, 195); Adam Henderson (6-2, 291); and Marchello Ling (6-2, 215) enables WFHS to employ that strategy. They wore down Groves, eventually running at will, Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
Can Windsor Forest use their size to wear down the Gamecocks in a similar manner. “I hope not,” answered Duncan.
There is a very talented and young running back in the Knight backfield, sophomore Traivon Bass-Black, who went well over 100 yards on Sept. 11. In fact, all three mates in the backfield are sophomores taking handoffs from a senior quarterback.
Also headed in the right direction is the Knights’ roster.
According to MaxPreps, Windsor Forest numbered players are better than 90.
Busby has drastically increased participation on the team whose last win before last week was Oct. 20, 2012, also over Groves. The team’s last win over anyone other than Groves was Nov. 4, 2011, over Jenkins High of Savannah.
Busby also knows how to defeat the Gamecocks, having been the offensive coordinator at Dublin a year ago.
As to that, “I am not sure how much affect that will have,” said Duncan. “They will have all of our old film and I am sure Dublin will get all of our present film. We can’t really concern ourselves with that stuff. Just have to be ready to play against a solid, very much improved team.”
During his career, Busby also has coached at Forsyth Central, Toombs County, and Montgomery County. The latter was his first head coaching position, going 13-27 from 2008-2011. He also has coached at South Effingham, Burke County, Pike County and Thomas County Central.
Prior to their demise into a misery that has seen the program sink to 2-31 since the beginning of the 2012 season, the Knights were one of the most consistent programs in Savannah.
WFHS advanced to the state playoffs from Region 3AAAAA six consecutive seasons (2006-2011) and seven times in eight seasons.
SCHS will counter the Knights’ size on the O line with their veteran defense whose starters have yet to allow a point this season.
The Gamecocks are led by junior linebacker Richmond Whitfield, who has been in on 25 tackles; senior linebacker Jermany Hawkins (24); senior safety Xavier Sheppard (20); senior defensive end Eric Hayward (20); sophomore defensive tackle CJ Wright (19); and senior linebacker Ashton Solomon (18).
Offensively, the Roosters, whose starters have not played in a fourth quarter this season, show senior tailback Malik Prescott with 542 yards on just 40 carries (13.6). MaxPreps lists him as third in the state in rushing.
Sophomore SCHS QB Armani Bunbury has accounted for 519 total yards (246 rushing and 273 passing). Prescott has scored seven times, while Bunbury has rushed for two and passed for six.
Sophomore Tyquan Johnson has been on the receiving end of four scoring tosses and senior tight end Ronnie Johnson two.
Windsor Forest opened its season with back-to-back losses to AAA Savannah schools Beach 39-16 and Savannah High 21-3.
SCHS and Windsor Forest have met for the past three seasons with the Gamecocks winning all three. Those are the only meetings between the programs.